The Vape Ban and President Trump: November 2019 Update
When the vaping crisis erupted into public view in August, consumers, vape manufactures, politicians, government regulators, and medical professionals were all caught off guard by the sheer, awful scale of it. People were injured and deaths occurred across the nation. But, before government officials even understood the nature of the problem, some attempted to ban many popular flavored vaping products that had nothing to do with the crisis.
Back on Sept. 11, President Trump said that he supported a Food and Drug Administration proposal to ban those products, and he understood it could be costly to the industry. The president said at the time, "Vaping has become a very big business as I understand it. A giant business in a very short period of time. But we can't allow people to get sick and we can't have our youth to be so affected.”
Even though it appeared that illegal and counterfeit cannabis vape products were largely to blame for the lung injuries and deaths, E-Juice products such as mint, menthol, fruit and candy flavors would all be banned under the original FDA proposal. So, even though high-quality products like Cool Mint from Puff Bar Disposable Device Pods and Mango and Mint Juul Pods had nothing to do with the crisis, their popular products would be banned.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, an advocacy organization, said on September 11 that “We are deeply disappointed in the President’s decision to take direction from anti-vaping activists attempting to ban the sale of nearly every vaping product on the market. A ban will remove life-changing options from the market that have been used by several million American adults to quit smoking.” Tony Abboud, the Executive Director of the Vapor Technology Association, another e-cigarette trade group, added that “Bans don’t work, they never have.”
A press conference was scheduled for November 5 to announce the ban. However, political advisors reportedly briefed the president showing that a ban would be unpopular with his base supporters. According to news reports, vaping industry advocates and the social media campaign #IVapeIVote implored President Trump to rescind the ban, and he did. The press conference was canceled.
On Nov. 11, the president tweeted that he would be “meeting with representatives of the vaping industry, together with medical professionals and individual state representatives, to come up with an acceptable solution to the vaping and E-cigarette dilemma.” The Whitehouse then announced that a meeting with vaping industry representatives would be held. White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. “As the President has said, there is a serious problem among our youth and their growing addiction to e-cigarettes. The policymaking process is not stalled — it continues to move forward,” Deere said. “This meeting will allow the President and other administration officials an opportunity to hear from a large group, representing all sides as we continue to develop responsible guidelines that protect the public health and the American people.”
Vaping industry groups, tobacco executives, conservative political organizations, and public health leaders met with President Trump on Friday, November 22. Attendees included Juul CEO K.C. Crosthwaite, Altria CEO Howard Willard, Reynolds American President and Chief Commercial Officer, Joe Fragnito. Gregory Conley and Tony Abboud also attended. Executives from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Lung Association and other the public health advocacy groups also attended. Several news outlets reported it was a highly- contentious meeting with outbreaks of shouting.
During the approximately one-hour meeting, President Trump suggested raising the legal age to 21 to purchase buy vaping products. News reports indicated that after listening to several of the participants, Mr. Trump said that he wants to “do something for everybody, where everybody’s happy.” Reports also revealed that Mr. Trump believes that a ban would lead to a thriving underground market and said, “If you don’t give it to them, it’s going to come here illegally.”
In the world of politics, things can sometimes change overnight and we will keep an eye on further developments. But as Tony Abboud said, bans never work. We all agree that e-cigarettes should not be sold to minor children, but prohibiting responsible adults from enjoying safe, high-quality e-liquid products of their choice is a mistake.