Presidential candidates and their positions on vaping

Presidential candidates and their positions on vaping

Most of the candidates in the 2020 presidential election take a strong stand on supporting either decriminalization or legalization of marijuana, yet at the same time take a hard line stance against vaping, which has been shown by countless clinical studies to be substantially less harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes. Those candidates which are calling for a ban on vaping, or at least a ban on flavored vaping, do so loudly and without any science to back it up. In their zeal for calling for vaping prohibition though, their inconsistency continues to show through. While many of the candidates decry the existence of flavored vapes and say that they target underage users while calling for an outright and complete ban of flavored vapes, they do not, at the same time, call for a ban of flavored THC-infused candies, sweet fruit-flavored vodka and wine, or beer with labeling designed to appeal to a youthful audience. It is evident then, that their anti-vaping rhetoric is simply a knee-jerk reaction to a small group of anti-vaping activists who have perpetrated a false narrative about the dangers of vaping while ignoring its overwhelming benefits. 

Michael Bloomberg furthers this false narrative in a New York Times interview, taking a hard line against vaping and saying, “We should stop this right now, especially the flavored kind of vaping and cigarettes that young kids like.” When asked whether he would ban vaping entirely, he responded, “It would be great if the president did that.” Once again Mr. Bloomberg perpetrates the false narrative that “flavors are for kids.” Perhaps Mr. Bloomberg prefers his coffee without sugar, eats his toast plain and forsakes his annual birthday cake in favor of a plate of broccoli, but in fact, Mr. Bloomberg, most adults like flavors too. 

Tom Steyer takes a more libertarian approach, stating in his New York Times interview that “I think that the way it stands now, that vaping is legal for people who are 21 or older, just the way cigarettes are legal for people who are 21 or over, is probably right.” He does get a little confused when his comments go contrary to the scientific reports though, and falsely claims that e-cigarettes are not smoking cessation devices, and instead calls them “introduction-to-smoking” devices.

Bernie Sanders responded to a question about vaping at a recent town hall meeting with a strongly Prohibitionist totalitarian approach, saying, “I think we should shut down the industry if they’re causing addiction and if the evidence is that people are getting sick as a result or inhaling a lot of bad stuff.” Sanders also ignored the benefits of vaping and the undisputed science that says it is less harmful than smoking, by saying “The evidence seems to indicate that vaping is not so good for your health.” Sanders’ Prohibitionist tendencies should alarm anyone who enjoys an occasional alcoholic beverage, soda pop, potato chips or anything else that could be construed as “not so good for your health.” Under a
Sanders presidency perhaps, we would be restricted to meatless burgers, kombucha and unsalted kale chips. 

Joe Biden ignores the tremendous body of research that has already shown that vaping is less harmful than cigarettes and is useful as a smoking cessation tool, stating that he would halt the sale of all vaping products “until more research is done.” When will it be enough, Joe? Like his competitor to the left Bernie Sanders, Biden also has stated he would shut down the entire industry, stating in a Town Hall meeting that “I don’t care what it does to the small businessperson.”

Pete Buttigieg, not surprisingly, is probably the only candidate who has actually thought about the issue and understands it. He says that “they should be held to a high standard,” which is really what the industry and the public wants. A “high standard” can and does apply to just about everything over which the FDA has jurisdiction, from hot dogs to aspirin, and it is those standards that give us assurances that the products we eat, drink, smoke or vape, are safe. 

Amy Klobuchar goes off in the wrong direction by talking about the horrors of flavored vapes. She advocates regulation, which most reasonable people do, but then she goes off the deep end in calling for a “moratorium” and seems to misunderstand that the current lung-related illnesses and deaths are actually the result of vaping THC which uses Vitamin E acetate as a carrier oil, and not the vaping platform and commercial nicotine vaping juices. 

Elizabeth Warren doesn’t go quite as far as her leftist counterpart Bernie Sanders in calling for all-out Prohibition, but she does talk about the need to look at the science, which is admirable. “I want to do what the science shows,” she said in her New York Times interview, and does acknowledge that there is some use for vaping products. In fact, in a recent blog published on Vapor Authority, it was reported that the American Cancer Society acknowledged the usefulness of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. Let’s hope that Ms. Warren does really read the science, which includes countless reports reinforcing the undisputed fact that vaping is less harmful than smoking. 

Donald Trump is also getting in on the anti-vaping bandwagon, arguing for a complete ban of flavored e-cigarettes and pod-based products, although menthol flavors and open tank systems would be exempt. Although his logic is misguided, he at least does not argue for total prohibition, and his policy would preserve the rights of the small businesspersons running vape shops to exist.


Edward Powell