Trump backs history-flavoured take on vaping ban

Pleas and counsel for the Prude-in-Chief

Friday’s roundtable on vaping was one of the more interesting White House discussions on a matter of contentious public policy for a long time. Industry representatives, medicos and parents’ groups gathered amidst growing concerns in the US about deaths and illness allegedly caused by e-cigarettes. At least 50 fatalities and 2000 hospitalisations have been linked – albeit loosely at this stage – to the increasingly voguish product. Some critics want an outright ban on vaping, some a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes (thought to be enticing to minors) and some want, at the very least, a nationally imposed age restriction on sales. Participants debated the pros and cons for Donald Trump’s edification with aggressive gusto. That was a break from recent convention. Meetings chaired by the President are usually subdued, if not staged and precious.

The most interesting aspect of the debate was the known attitude of Trump himself. He is not only a lifelong teetotaler but also a lifelong non-smoker. He has never smoked a cigarette. He attributes this dual abstemiousness to the death of his alcoholic brother, Fred Trump, at 43. Fred was an aficionado of both habits. Encouraged by the First Lady – whose roving interests include the health and well-being of children and teenagers – in September the President announced a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes. Given his personal predilections, this came as no surprise and was applauded by the health lobby.

No vaping front in the war on drugs, after all

He now appears to have changed his mind. Lobbied by manufacturers who say a flavours ban will cause serious job losses and disadvantage adults who vape as a way to quit conventional smoking, he is limiting policy change to an age limit (21) on purchases. In doing so, he echoed the concern voiced by others about dangerous “counterfeit” alternatives flooding the country. Sitting alongside Trump on Friday was Mitt Romney, one of few men as puritanical regarding drugs. He pointed out that tobacco-quitting adult vapers are not interested in flavours anyway. That put the lie to the industry’s customary narrative about being in the quitting business. They are, of course, in the habit business.

Critics are already accusing the President of reversing course to placate mega-donors and a Republican base leery of commercial bans and anti-smoking scolds. The criticism is two-thirds right. There is no doubt the turn-around has a political dimension. But history has its lessons as well as its uses and only a foolhardy President scorns either. That’s the remaining third that mattered. Notwithstanding his own austerity, the President accepted the argument about the risk of bootleggers’ versions and was right to do so. Tens of thousands of Americans died from drinking “Bathtub Gin” and rotgut during Prohibition. All in all, the policy arc on vaping has been a case study in Trump’s modus operandi. As with his prison-reforming First Step Act – the nearest thing to a praised-from-all-quarters initiative during his term – Trump sought to lead boldly on a ‘social issue’ and in a liberal direction (US ‘liberals’ being as pious on smoking as he is). There followed the shouting, the enlightenment and the ‘walk-back.’ Some call it chaos but the end result here is sound policy.

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18 Responses to Trump backs history-flavoured take on vaping ban

  1. BorisG

    Total stupidity averted. Sound policy ? Ok.

    One question: is it really a matter for POTUS to regulate? Isn’t it a matter for congress and the states?

  2. Mark A

    BorisG
    #3244071, posted on November 24, 2019 at 11:40 pm

    Total stupidity averted. Sound policy ? Ok.

    One question: is it really a matter for POTUS to regulate? Isn’t it a matter for congress and the states?

    Congress is too busy.

  3. It’s interesting that the UK approves of vaping as a lesser evil when it comes to those trying to get off smoking. I’ve always believed that those vehemently opposed to anything, showing no compromise, have a personal agenda driving such opposition.

    in the latter case it’s predominantly the medical fraternity and those who depend on all manner of taxpayer funding to stay employed. All of our health dogooders are driven by the fact that their very existence depends on people ‘over-indulging’ on everything they determine as being bad.

    Arguing that vaping ‘might’ be harmful and therefore should be banned, yet on the other hand encouraging such things as injecting rooms and drug testing at youth concerts is the height of hypocrisy.

  4. Shy Ted

    In the end it’s all free advertising for the industry.

  5. Truth n Justice

    Behind every moral principle is a vested interest!

  6. JohnJJJ

    Just out of interest: the cigarette shops around town. Someone told me they make 4% on the fags they sell, but the cigarette companies pay the shop a monthly fee of a few thousand dollars to sell the fags. Is that a tax thing?

  7. Tim Neilson

    I read somewhere that a great many of the vaping deaths involved vaping with the active ingredient of cannabis, which looks like users were augmenting the manufactured product.
    If so, there’s even less reason for hysteria.

  8. If so, there’s even less reason for hysteria.

    Yes, those cases arose because the vapers were adding compounds that they should not have added. It would be like blaming low alcohol beer on alcohol poisoning were drinkers to add methylated spirits to each glass.

  9. C.L.

    Yes, the vaping ‘crisis’ has the whiff to it of a generic anti-smoking hatchet job.
    That’s been my impression from the start.

  10. …vaping ‘crisis’…

    There always has to be a crisis or epidemic that allows the trough dwellers to seek more taxpayer money.

  11. At least 50 fatalities and 2000 hospitalisations have been linked – albeit loosely at this stage

    These statistics are tortured like an allied airman who had evaded the Gestapo for months.

    You cannot trust these figures at all, they will say anything to stop the pain.

    If a 300 lb butter slug , 4 1/2 ft tall woman dies and vapes, it is because of vaping, not being a morbidly obese lardball.

  12. Iampeter

    Friday’s roundtable on vaping was one of the more interesting White House discussions on a matter of contentious public policy for a long time.

    Yep. Totally. Vaping is the issue on which Western Civilization itself depends.

    The most interesting aspect of the debate was the known attitude of Trump himself. He is not only a lifelong teetotaler but also a lifelong non-smoker.

    Yep. Totally. Because the “most interesting” aspects of political debates is not autistic stuff, like political theory, but the random personal preferences of whoever happens to be the head of government at the time.

    There followed the shouting, the enlightenment and the ‘walk-back.’ Some call it chaos but the end result here is sound policy.

    It’s certainly nowhere near as left wing and disastrous as tariffs, or agreeing to a meeting with the North Korean dictator in exchange for nothing. But “sound policy?”
    That’s not the term I’d use to describe random legislation, with no basis in any political theory, arrived at arbitrarily and based on the unquestioned acceptance that the state can regulate whatever it wants to regulate.

    This is supposed to be a Right Wing blog, right?

  13. C.L.

    You must be struggling with comprehension, Iampeter.
    Trump decided NOT to regulate flavoured e-cigarettes.
    That was the sound decision.

    Yep. Totally. Vaping is the issue on which Western Civilization itself depends.

    The blog is not principally about Western Civilisation. It’s also about policy.
    This little policy performance tells us how this administration works – for better and for worse. I enjoy essaying the building blocks-level stuff in politics as much as the grand sweep stuff.

  14. Iampeter

    You must be struggling with comprehension, Iampeter.
    Trump decided NOT to regulate flavoured e-cigarettes.
    That was the sound decision.

    Yea, he only put an age limit on it. And offered no arguments against regulating it. Neither did any other conservative. Sound decision!

    The blog is not principally about Western Civilisation. It’s also about policy.

    I was making fun of you describing a round-table that presented no political arguments, no political literacy and agreement that the state can regulate whatever it wants to regulate, on one of the most trivial issues imaginable, as one of the “more interesting White House discussions”.
    I can only imagine what you think an boring and completely irrelevant to anything discussion would be.

    I enjoy essaying the building blocks-level stuff in politics as much as the grand sweep stuff.

    Cool. Do you think knowing something about politics might be an important pre-requisite to such essays?

    I ask because, you know, this post.

  15. JC

    If you have to troll, Debbie, don’t be so boringly repetitive all the time.

  16. C.L.

    And offered no arguments against regulating it.

    From the post:

    … he is limiting policy change to an age limit (21) on purchases. In doing so, he echoed the concern voiced by others about dangerous “counterfeit” alternatives flooding the country … Notwithstanding his own austerity, the President accepted the argument about the risk of bootleggers’ versions and was right to do so.

    ———-

    I was making fun of you describing a round-table that presented no political arguments, no political literacy and agreement that the state can regulate whatever it wants to regulate, on one of the most trivial issues imaginable, as one of the “more interesting White House discussions”.

    The conference was a shout-fest of many competing political arguments. Did you not follow the link or see the coverage on the news? As a left-winger, you fully support the state regulating anything – so I’m not sure what your objection to that is. Since the Surgeon-General’s famous condemnation of tobacco, US governments have been inclined to regulate smoking. That’s not unreasonable from a conservative standpoint. Otherwise, anyone could package cigarettes containing absolutely anything and sell them.

    The conference was interesting because:

    1) it is a huge issue in the US right now (unbeknownst to you, evidently).
    2) from a human standpoint, it was interesting because Trump is notoriously anti-smoking.
    3) it is interesting because Trump originally went with his abstemious instincts but then changed course for a political reason, under the pretext of historical precedent.
    4) it is interesting because it showed how this administration usually functions, public policy-wise.

    I don’t mind that it’s of little interest to others. I write about things from the ground-up sometimes. One has to read smaller events sometimes and tease out why people do things at a micro policy level.

    You appear to be out of your depth when it comes to US domestic politics (inter alia).
    That’s OK, though. You’re a good old stick and I like you.

  17. Iampeter

    … he is limiting policy change to an age limit (21) on purchases. In doing so, he echoed the concern voiced by others about dangerous “counterfeit” alternatives flooding the country … Notwithstanding his own austerity, the President accepted the argument about the risk of bootleggers’ versions and was right to do so.

    That’s NOT an argument for why anything shouldn’t be regulated. I guess I have to add “political” in front of argument…
    This entire line of reasoning concedes the statists point.
    There’s no political, right wing argument there, nor does anyone appear to even know where to begin.

    The conference was a shout-fest of many competing political arguments.

    There were NO political arguments.

    As a left-winger, you fully support the state regulating anything – so I’m not sure what your objection to that is.

    YOU are the left winger and you support the state regulating everything as we see from many of your posts.
    Unlike you, I am on the right wing side of politics which means standing for individual rights, rights-protecting government and capitalism. These are terms you have zero understanding of.
    This post and thread alone demonstrates this.

    The fact that you could be in any way confused about which one of us is on the right wing or left wing side of politics and why is another reason I asked my last question.

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