Vapers set to play key role in 2020 election as Trump administration dallies on e-cigarette regulation

Four out of five vapers said they are likely to vote in this year's election based on the candidates' take on the issue, according to a poll from last October

                            Vapers set to play key role in 2020 election as Trump administration dallies on e-cigarette regulation
(Getty Images)

Among other important factors, one bloc could play a decisive role in the November presidential elections and it is the vaping community. Anti-regulatory advocates at Americans for Tax Reform sense that the vaping voters will be bigger than President Donald Trump’s victory margin in 2016 in the battleground states.

According to a poll carried out last October by McLaughlin & Associates for Americans for Tax Reform, four out of five vapers or those who use electronic cigarettes said they are likely to vote in this election based on the candidates' position on vaping. The poll covered nearly 4,700 vapers in 17 states and Paul Blair, the group’s director of strategic initiatives, identified the states where the vapers could determine the outcome are Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. 

Trump has gone back and forth on vaping

Vaping has become a major issue in US politics of late as the political leadership has not taken a firm stand on banning flavored e-cigarettes in the wake of some mysterious injuries and deaths. Despite promising to do something decisive after being advised by First Lady Melania Trump and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, the president did not take as strict a stand as his other aides (including campaign manager Brad Parscale) predicted it could harm his electoral prospects.

On January 1, public health groups expressed their dissatisfaction and predicted Trump’s scaling down to limit flavored e-cigarettes will fail to stop the youth from indulging in more vaping. They said the administration capitulated to industry interests in an election year. The Trump administration has planned to ban most flavored e-cigarette cartridges, according to the informed officials, but the ban will not include menthol-flavored tobacco products but only fruit and dessert flavors.
This will mean a major retreat from an earlier proposal and according to a senior administrative official said the outcome was a compromise between the administration looking for a comprehensive ban promised by the president last September and others fearing the consequences caused by potential job losses in the vaping industry, the Washington Post reported. In September, the administration said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would try to curb a youth vaping epidemic by banned all flavors except tobacco. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at the time that flavored-product manufacturers would also have the chance to file for approval from the FDA but their products would be off the shelves till they receive approval.

Vaping community gives clear message

Amid the snowballing controversy over the selective banning of flavored cigarettes and the protest by the public health groups, the vaping community’s clear message will alert the Trump administration even more. This week, vape voters thronged the road leading to Trump's Ma-a-Lago resort in Florida during his presence while demonstrating over the issue. On many days, they came out with placards reading “stop the flavor ban” and “Don’t ban my vape” while others wore “We Vape We Vote” T-shirts.

According to a report in the Washington Times, Trump “could be playing with electoral fire” with a ban expected on e-cigarettes on all flavors except methanol and tobacco, even if temporary.

“You can discount the people that don’t vote and you can discount the adult vapers that maybe vote on other issues or don’t care about this,” Blair was quoted as saying by Times. “[But] based on polling that we did in 2016 and that John McLaughlin, Trump’s campaign pollster, did in October three out of four of these voters will be less likely to vote for the president if he does a flavor ban or a ban on these products.”

Vapers influenced Wisconsin senate race in 2016

The fact that vapers can influence an election in the US is already evident. In 2016, the community left an impact on the senate race in Wisconsin ad the trend could replicate elsewhere this time, Blair said. GOP Senator Ron Johnson, for instance, gained by advocating for the vapers on the campaign trail as he went on to beat the Democratic incumbent Russell Feingold.

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