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Previous political experience: former Vice President (2009-2017), former Senator from Delaware (1973-2009)
Joe Biden has been in politics for nearly fifty years; he was a senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009 and most recently vice-president under Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017. Biden’s stances on vaping have been mostly hostile. Biden said during an Iowa campaign speech in January 2020, “If the science has demonstrated is doing great damage then I don’t care what it does to a small business person who’s selling this stuff. If it is damaging lungs, if it’s causing the kind of damage that is said and that studies not been fully done yet. If it turns out that it is that I would eliminate it.”
While they did not donate directly to Biden, Juul has made donations to Democratic politicians down the ticket. One of their most interesting donations is to Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA). Richmond is also the co-chairman of Biden’s campaign. Biden’s proposal to halt the sale of vaping products indefinitely is something the vaping industry should take notice of and should raise concerns.
Industry advocate? Possibly not. Biden’s speeches suggest he may implement more stringent anti-vaping legislation that is already present in several states. We believe he could change his stance as he learns more about the industry, but he could be strongly against vape much like Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), one of vaping’s most prominent critics in the Senate.
Previous political experience: Mayor of New York City (2002-2013)
Michael Bloomberg is one of three New York native billionaires running for the presidency. If elected, he would be the richest individual ever elected to the presidency as his net worth is estimated to be around $62 billion, surpassing current president Donald Trump. Bloomberg has had a history of donating to anti-tobacco and anti-vaping causes. He donated $1 billion to fight the tobacco industry and is pledging another $160 million to fight what he calls the “youth e-cigarette epidemic.” If elected, Bloomberg has proposed a total flavor ban and would raise taxes on traditional cigarettes.
There is an additional element in Bloomberg’s stance on vaping: he wants to require health insurance companies to cover counseling and smoking cessation medicines with no limits on treatment or copays. Bloomberg also wants to limit nicotine in traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes to what he says are “non-addictive levels” but does not specify the limit.
Industry advocate? No. Bloomberg’s vast wealth and donations to anti-tobacco and anti-vaping efforts only paint him as a villain of the industry. He also conflates vaping products with traditional tobacco products and has a track record of tobacco control that would possibly extend to vaping products as well under a Bloomberg presidency.
Previous political experience: Mayor of South Bend, Indiana (2012-2020)
Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg will be the youngest person elected to the presidency if he wins. However, he may be more known for his stances on vaping. In an Iowa town hall, Buttigieg said, “What we are seeing is e-cigarettes being marketed and sold to young people despite companies telling us otherwise. The way this was marketed and sold to this country is that it can be used for harm reduction...I believe the burden has to be on companies to demonstrate that they are not causing harm rather than on regulators to demonstrate that they are. This means taking action on these flavored e-cigarette products that are clearly targeted towards children and making sure that we have a much higher bar for them demonstrating that they’re not causing harm because we’re seeing all these horrifying cases of people coming to harm because they use this product.”
The CDC, FDA, and other state health agencies have said that black market products and illicit THC cartridges containing vitamin E acetate have been the primary cause of lung injuries and deaths. These deaths have been misattributed to vaping products by the media, politicians, and others. eLiquid.com and other reputable vape retailers do NOT sell THC products. We recommend that you buy your vape products from reputable sellers such as eLiquid.com.
Industry advocate? No. Buttigieg’s stances are misinformed or even hostile to the vaping industry. He is firmly against viewing vaping as a harm reduction technique. In addition, he refuses to admit that vaping products, particularly flavors, have any sort of harm reduction potential. Adults who vape have reported success with flavors as a form of harm reduction.
Previous political experience: U.S. Representative, 2nd District of Hawaii (2013-present)
Tulsi Gabbard is the representative for Hawaii’s 2nd district, serving since 2013. She has been quiet on vaping and has not expressed support or opposition to the issue. One Reddit poster had contacted Gabbard’s office back in 2016 regarding vaping but received a form letter instead. What makes Gabbard an interesting candidate is that she has a track record of challenging the Democratic Party on several key issues. She has been vocal in her support of marijuana legalization, but we do not know what her views are on vaping as of this writing.
Industry advocate? Unsure. As previously mentioned, she supports marijuana legalization, but we do not know whether that stance will carry over to supporting or opposing the vaping industry.
Previous political experience: Senator from Minnesota (2007-present)
Amy Klobuchar signed a letter to former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb to curb youth vaping in 2018. This year, in an interview with the New York Times, she said, “I support the moratorium that’s in place right now.” This may contradict a statement from Klobuchar’s Senate website. “The President’s decision not to move forward on action to ban flavored e-cigarettes is yet another example of how his administration prioritizes corporate interests over people,” she said in November 2019.
Klobuchar could possibly support a flavor ban, but we are unsure as of this time of writing. She has not said much else about her stances on vaping. Juul did not donate to her campaign, while the e-cigarette company did donate to other 2020 Democratic candidates.
Industry advocate? Possibly not. She could change her stance as the campaign goes on, but as of the time of this writing, it seems that Klobuchar will stand with her Democratic colleagues to support some type of flavor ban and/or additional regulation on the industry.
Previous political experience: Senator from Vermont (2007-present), U.S. Representative from Vermont (1991-2007), Mayor of Burlington, Vermont (1981-1989)
Bernie Sanders has not said much about vaping. However, he shocked vapers during a town hall in Iowa when he called for a shutdown of the vaping industry in January 2020. Jeff Weaver, one of Sanders’ longtime political advisers as well as a key figure in the Sanders campaign, has clarified his viewpoints. He said that Sanders was “certainly not talking about shutting down the industry tomorrow.”
Vapers who may be concerned that Sanders could take a hostile stance towards the vaping industry may be relieved to hear that Sanders would like to study the industry more. This will give a chance for vapers and those working in the vaping industry to voice their concerns should Sanders presidency. Aside from a few remarks, we do not have any more information on what Sanders’ true views on vaping are.
Industry advocate? Unknown. Sanders’ drastic position changes from “shutting down” the whole industry to needing more information will raise more questions than answers. At this time, his real position on the vaping industry is impossible to identify.
Previous political experience: None
Tom Steyer holds commonalities with two other candidates in the presidential race: he is a billionaire from New York City. Steyer also has no prior political experience, much like Donald Trump who ran in 2016. However, his stances on tobacco and vaping seem to be fueled more by a personal story. Steyer’s mother smoked three packs a day and died of lung cancer.
Steyer’s support of taxes on e-cigarettes and other vaping products and his leadership of the Save Lives Coalition are two of his most prominent stances on vaping. When asked about the proposed tax in his home state of California, Steyer said, “This initiative aims to save lives and stop teens from ever picking up the deadly tobacco habit in the first place.” Steyer seems to be on the fence when it comes to regulating vape. He also said in the same New York Times interview that included other potential 2020 candidates that “21-year-olds are fully formed adults and make their own decisions.”
Industry advocate? Unsure. He has conflicting stances on vaping. He does support T21, which much of the vaping industry also supports. However, he does not support vaping as a harm reduction method. We hope that more research into the industry will encourage him to change or clarify his stance on vaping.
Previous political experience: 45th President of the United States (2017-present)
Donald Trump is the 45th and current president of the United States. He is known for shifting positions on many issues, and vaping happens to be one of them. He advocated for a total flavor ban and then walked it back. He even noted that he regretted having any personal involvement with the issue. Trump himself does not use tobacco products. He has most recently favored spinning off the Center for Tobacco Products, which is under the jurisdiction of the FDA, into a department of its own under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Many of the flavor bans have happened under the Trump administration as various states took actions of their own and instituted a variety of regulations and laws including flavor bans, increased taxes on vaping products, and other regulations. The uncertainty in the industry could partially be blamed on the Trump administration’s failure to take decisive action. However, some states have had such bans overturned through the courts or other methods.
Industry advocate? Questionable. While Trump’s views on vaping have evolved since September 2019, we know that the PMTA deadline is set for May 12, 2020. This is going to occur under his watch unless other actions are taken to either extend PMTA or have it take a different route entirely. Any actions he takes or fails to take will reflect on his legacy among vapers and may even impact his chances for re-election.
Previous political experience: Senator from Massachusetts (2013-present)
Elizabeth Warren represents Massachusetts in the Senate. Massachusetts was at the epicenter of the panic surrounding the vaping industry. It was the first state to implement a flavor ban before it was ultimately challenged in the courts. Warren issued a press release outlining what she wanted from the vaping industry. She specifically named Juul and Altria as two companies that were “fueling the youth vaping epidemic.” She also called on the FDA, HHS, and CDC to address the health impacts of e-cigarette products.
It is important to notice that Warren, in a break with some Massachusetts politicians, did not explicitly call for flavor bans or additional regulations on the industry. However, she failed to mention some of the true causes behind the lung injuries and deaths, such as vitamin E acetate found in illicit THC cartridges. While she is asking the right questions regarding the vaping industry, we are not sure where she ultimately will stand on the issue.
Industry advocate? Unsure. While she does not call for flavor bans or additional regulations, she does not address the true causes of the lung injuries and deaths that were misattributed to vaping: illegal THC cartridges containing vitamin E acetate. As previously mentioned, eLiquid.com and other reputable sellers do NOT sell THC products. We encourage you to buy from reputable sellers such as eLiquid.com.
Thank you for reading this edition of the State of Vape. Who do you support? Who do you think will be most friendly to the vaping industry? Let us know in the comments below.
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