It’s been a busy season of backlash against the vaping community.
The industry has been in the spotlight after reports of mysterious e-cigarette or vaping-related lung injuries (EVALI) - which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) later linked to black market THC cartridges and NOT regulation e-cigarette products - created a media frenzy earlier this year.
Coupled with claims that flavors attract the use of e-cigarettes and smoking by youth, a number of state and city-wide flavor bans spread across the nation, garnering President Donald Trump’s announcement of a federal flavor ban in September… with both vaping businesses and consumers in its path of destruction.
Late last month, hundreds of protesters gathered at the White House to rally against the impending ban. Between puffs of flavored smoke, crowds from around the country chanted phrases like, “We vape, we vote,” holding signs reading “Make America Vape Again.” The vast majority of protesters were industry advocates and shop owners whose businesses, according to interviews with Rolling Stone, have been “virtually decimated by the past three months of negative media coverage, even if they did not operate in states that had passed flavor bans.”
So what is the White House planning on doing about it? After large-scale political backlash, the Trump administration is acting quickly to figure that out.
Conservative groups and vaping supporters alike have been pressuring President Trump to rethink the ban, citing job losses and polling data on voters critical to the upcoming election. With hundreds of thousands of vapers in swing states and many angry voters, Trump held an official meeting in late November to, “get to the bottom of the e-cigarette dilemma.”
The meeting was broadcast online on Periscope by ABC News, with attendees including tobacco executives, public health groups and vaping advocates. President of the American Vaping Association, Gregory Conley, played a key role in representing the vaping industry.
Conley concisely addressed the issues at hand, from the THC oil cartridges, to Michael Bloomberg funding $160 million for a flavor ban, to the impact on small businesses and the health of adult smokers.
Reports shared at the meeting also indicated that a flavor ban would in fact cause sales in the industry to fall by $8.4 billion, with the overall economy seeing a potential $22.4 billion hit, ultimately eliminating over 151,000 jobs.
Our take away from it all is that it seems like President Trump is aware that the reported EVALI health cases were not caused by nicotine products. He also took note of the big impact the flavor ban would have on small businesses, while adversely benefitting Big Tobacco. And ironically, Trump nodded to DIYers inevitably just flavoring the liquid themselves should a ban be put into place.
The matter is still in the air, but we’re slowly inching closer to a decision. We’ll keep you in the loop as we find out more. [See if your state is affected by vaping bans].
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