The politics of vaping is scarcely ever mentioned in the mainstream media. Vaping and even smoking itself barely register as campaign issues for any political party. I guess there are bigger fish to fry. It seems that the magnitude of the problems that smoking causes our society is just not that interesting and certainly not shocking enough to grab a headline.
What kind of issues do grab headlines? Any type of disaster would be sexy enough for the media to talk about and cause the politicians jump in with both feet. For example, let’s imagine if there were an issue in this country that claimed 450,000 plus lives per year. An issue that saw the death of 450,000 lives every year would be cause for panic, it would be front page news every day. People would be screaming from the rooftops. Political candidates would be scrambling for solutions. The ones not looking for solutions would be making hey pointing fingers. It would be huge news every night at 6 and 11.
If an issue of this magnitude actually existed, we the public would demand an answer. If there were such an issue, I don’t imagine political candidates would bother talking about emails or who can blame who for what. Well to our shame, the issue of losing 450,000 lives a year does exist. We lose those 450,000 lives a year and it barely blips the radar. We are so desensitized, reality does not even register.
Unfortunately, the deaths caused each year by smoking is something that by and large we have come to accept as an inevitability. We are totally numb to it and the fact of the matter is that this desensitization is a disaster. The worst part of all is that with vaping we have something that could save millions of lives but despite that fact, ecigs are under attack.
Think about it. Almost half a million lives hang in the balance every year even decades after public health agencies and Big Pharma have been trying to make a dent. They are failing. The gains that they have made are obviously not enough. Where is the will to do better? Why is the establishment so resistant to any alternative? How can so many be so comfortable with the grim statistics that they actually work against making alternative available to smokers? It defies reason.
About 9 years ago, the first electronic cigarettes showed up in the United States. In less than a decade since, it is estimated that 4 million people now vape instead of smoke. Most credible research, much of it occurring in Europe, is showing that vaping is 95% safer than smoking. Yet ecigs are under attack and the fate of vaping should be something that political candidates start to take note of.
The Politics Of Vaping
The state of the politics of vaping is not clear. Bill Godshall of Smoke Free Pennsylvania says that it is a partisan issue. Mr. Godshall says that it is the Democratic appointees to the FDA and other agencies that are opposed to vaping.
In Congress, there are two opposing bills that could dramatically impact the vaping industry. Both bills deal with the grandfather date imposed by pending FDA ecigarette regulations.
The FDA has proposed that any ‘tobacco’ product, including ecigs, that came to market after February 2007 must go through an extensive approval process whether or not the product is able to meet FDA standards.
So basically even if an ecig or eliquid meets every standard if it came to market after Feb. 2007, it will have to go through the motions and FDA red tape to stay in business. That approval process will cost millions and put most ecig and ejuice companies out of business. If independent ecig companies are wiped out, vaping would be decreased in availability and smokers would be left only with pharmaceutical options or ecigs owned by Big Tobacco. In other words, if ecigs fail the existing corporate powers in the US will remain unchallenged.
Alabama Republican Congressman Robert Anderholt has sponsored a bill that would prevent the FDA from forcing ecig companies already on the market to go through the expensive FDA approval process. These companies would still have to meet FDA standards but would not have to go through the all of the expensive red tape.
At the same time, Democrat Nita Lowey has worked to ensure that the FDA keep the grandfather date and force 99% of ecig companies to go through the pre-market approval process. This would essentially wipe out independent American ecig brands who simply do not have the resources to spend millions of dollars to get approval. The fact that their products meet all standards would be irrelevant.
By the same token, to make the question of partisanship less clear, the Obama Administration actually stepped in to prevent the FDA from banning online sales of ecigarettes and eliquids. Most American ecig brands rely on online sales. Had online ecig sales been banned, the best ecigs on the market would have been threatened leaving consumers with only the imported products sold by vape shops or the Big Tobacco ecigs sold at the same places that sell cigarettes.
Where is this all going? A society-wide matter that involves so much loss of life should be a major issue that demands the attention of our leaders. Will any of the leading Presidential candidates step up to the plate and tackle the politics of vaping?
The fact of the matter is that tobacco is killing us in astonishing numbers. For years there seemed little that could be done. With millions of people escaping tobacco with ecigs now it seems like something can be done after all. Despite the promise of ecigs, there is a distinct effort underway to crush American ecig business and mislead the public with ridiculous ecig myths. Will any politician stand up for the health of smokers and make sure that they have the alternative of vaping available? 450,000 lives a year matter. It’s time for 2016 candidates to start paying attention.