When asked about the so-called "youth vaping epidemic" at a town hall meeting in Iowa in January, Bernie Sanders responded by apparently threatening to shut down the vaping industry.
“The answer is, I think we 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 replied.
He didn't seem to be thinking of the half a million adults who die from lung cancer every year after inhaling "a lot of bad stuff" from combustible cigarettes when he made this statement. By his logic, the entire tobacco industry should be shut down, along with the alcohol industry as well, but Bernie didn't mention them.
“The evidence seems to indicate that vaping is not so good for your health,” Sanders stated. “So, when you have products that are not good for your health, I think you’ve got to tell that industry that they cannot produce a product which is making our kids sick.”
Sanders' off the cuff remarks were quickly walked back by Jeff Weaver, his political advisor, who claimed that Sanders was “certainly not talking about shutting down the industry tomorrow.” Weaver didn't give an exact date for when Saunders apparently was talking about shutting down the vape industry.
In fairness, Sanders seemed generally uninformed on the issues surrounding vaping. After making his industry killing statements, he quickly reverted to asking questions of the questioner, saying, “Do you know kids who are vaping? Are they getting stuck on it? What’s the story there?”
Sanders' comments pale in comparison to the anti-vaping statements made by another previous Presidential hopeful, however.
"We should stop this right now, particularly the flavored kinds of vaping and cigarettes that young kids like," said Michael Bloomberg, who also famously ponied up $160 million dollars in order to try to push through a ban on flavored vapes.
"Would you ban vaping products entirely?" Bloomberg was asked.
"I think you can make a very good case to do so," he replied.
Yes, he said "ban vaping products entirely."
Bloomberg numerous actions have shown that he is nothing short of the Grinch that wants to steal vaping's Christmas so thankfully, he's dropped out of the race to the White House already.
Unfortunately, Biden has also taken a pretty harsh stance against vaper's rights. He has said that he would stop the sale of vaping products pending more research on the effects.
In response to a question at a rally in Iowa recently, Biden called for "serious scientific data as to whether or not it has the kind of long-term damage on the lungs and it causes death before we allow it to be sold."
"I don't care what it does to a small business person who's selling this stuff," Biden said. "If it turns out that it is that (causing lung damage) I would eliminate it."
Like Sanders, Biden seems ill informed on the subject of vaping. He seems ignorant of the numerous studies already done that show vaping is a helpful, harm reduction strategy for adult cigarette smokers and unaware of the fact that vaping is not causing death despite use by millions of vapers for over a decade. Moreover, he does not seem aware of the hypocrisy in condemning vaping, even if it were to be found to be significantly harmful, while allowing the cigarette industry to continue.
Whether you're "Feeling the Bern" for Bernie this coming November or are hoping Biden will beat out a second Trump term, you might want to write your chosen candidate to encourage him to change his stance on the issue of vaping. Making your voice heard and providing some much needed education now could go a long way.
If you think reaching out to educate your candidate won't do any good, take a gander at the grassroots "I Vape, I Vote" movement. It has seen vapers raising their voices strongly in opposition to draconian vaping policies floated by politicians using the #IVapeIVote hashtag on social media. The movement can already point to a number of victories.
The campaign was likely at least a factor in getting President Trump to abandon his plan to ban all flavored vapes which he announced last September. He ultimately struck a compromise by banning only pod based flavors, which studies show are overwhelmingly the products used by teens. Since the majority of craft e-juice made by small businesses is bottled rather than pod based, this left the small vaping industry largely intact while taking away the flavored products most used by youths. It also reduced underage access to flavored vape products since the bulk of bottled vape juice is only available in vape shops where I.D. laws are more strictly enforced.
In fact, Trump has so completely reversed his stance on vaping, perhaps in response to the intense backlash he faced from angry vapers, that a statement put out by his Executive Office last week was some of the most reasonable ink we've seen spilled over vaping by anyone in government in recent times.
The "I Vape, I Vote" movement has also claimed credit for the election of Republican Senator Ron Johnson.
His support for vaping started before his reelection campaign when he wrote the FDA after the "Deeming Rule" was announced, demanding to know why such stringent measures were called for. Vapers rewarded him with a groundswell of support which many felt was responsible for his successful reelection to the Senate--not least of all himself. After his victory, Johnson thanked vapers.
"You made tonight possible; I truly appreciate it. I will be on your side," he promised. Johnson has been true to his word. He has been one of the only real vaping advocates we've seen in politics over the last couple of years.
Johnson urged caution and more research rather than an outright ban on vaping when the so-called vaping illness struck last year (subsequent research eventually showed it was linked to illegal cannabis pods tainted with vitamin E acetate), objected to the White House flavor ban proposed in September and then applauded Trump's reversal on the flavor ban with a celebratory Tweet:
Senator Johnson's story proves that vape advocacy works and making your voice heard can make a difference. If you vape and you vote, now is the time to let your favored Presidential candidate know where you stand!
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