On September 11, 2019, then-President Donald Trump announced that due to vaping-related lung injuries, his administration would be banning flavored nicotine vaping products. The ban was announced despite the fact that it had already been proven that these lung injuries were being caused by black market marijuana vape products that contained vitamin E acetate. This ban was announced despite the abundance of evidence to the contrary of their stated reasoning.
Trump went on to ban flavors in “pod systems” in early 2020. By then, the damage that was done extended far beyond those products. Even prior to the outbreak, adult smokers and ex-smokers had been convinced vaping was more harmful than cigarettes, despite scientists repeatedly showing that vaping is 95 percent safer. The heightened alarmism around the lung injuries immediately reversed the four to five percent annual decline in smoking rates our country has enjoyed since vaping became prevalent in 2015. It also resulted in the first annual increase in smoking rate in 30 years, and only the second annual increase in smoking rates since data started being collected in 1965.
When President Joe Biden began his campaign for president, he quickly adopted the term “follow the science.” After several years of desperately fighting for the ability to continue offering smokers a less harmful way to treat their addiction, this was music to my ears. As someone who finally defeated a 16-year smoking addiction via vaping, only to have my doctor tell me that they couldn’t tell that I vaped (or had ever smoked!) just two years later, I was overjoyed by the idea of a leader that would address health issues in a professional and logical matter.
Needless to say, Biden got my vote, as well as the votes of many vapers we informed on the issue. Biden went on to win my home state of Arizona by a handful of votes, and I was proud to have contributed to that victory. I looked forward to reasonable, sensible regulation on vapor products, specifically geared toward restricting youth access. For some time, it appeared that’s exactly what was happening. Only a week after taking office, Biden announced an initiative to restore faith in government scientists. At the beginning of August, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced a review of scientific integrity policies in order to “ban improper political interference in the conduct of scientific research.”
Unfortunately, these positive steps were almost immediately followed up with actions that went entirely contrary to those steps and the goals they claimed to work toward. In recent weeks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun delivering baseless remarks using the exact verbiage which previously appeared on the websites of anti-vape special interest groups including Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Parents Against Vaping, the ironically named Truth Initiative, as well as several others that are also funded by outspoken vaping prohibitionist and billionaire donor Michael Bloomberg. Meanwhile, the evidence-based arguments of scientists like long-time public health official Cliff Douglas and an additional recent coalition of scientists have gone unheard of by the Biden administration.
Then, a few days ago, the unthinkable happened. Small mom and pop vapor companies across the country began getting letters from Biden’s FDA denying them the ability to continue to help adult smokers with their products. Millions of flavored vaping products were ordered off the market, with no regard for the tens of millions of vapers nationwide who depend on them to stay away from smoking. This decision was made by the Biden administration despite studies showing the majority will likely return to cigarettes. That decision was made without “following the science”.
Biden earned my vote with a single promise. It turned out to be a promise that he not only didn’t keep but sprinted in the opposite direction. While I didn’t love Trump’s approach to vaping, in the end, he did see the light on this issue and allowed me to continue using the products that help me stay smoke-free. Instead of following the science, Joe Biden is about to condemn tens of millions of us to a fate where two out of three of us will die painfully. None of us who survive until election day will forget this. I’ll make sure of that.