The 2022 elections are (relatively) far away, but the politics around vaping have been nonstop ever since the EVALI scare of 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 to the present. Legislators and regulators have always made statements regarding flavors. However, vapers and the vaping industry may not know who has their back. Has the government been consistent? Who is supporting vape, and who isn’t? What (proposed) laws or regulations are coming up? We’ll try to answer these questions (and more) in this edition of the State of Vape.
DISCLAIMER: eJuices.co does not endorse or support any candidate for political office. This blog post is for informational purposes that are based upon statements that have been reported by the news and media. The individual positions provided in this blog post may change over time. All opinions provided herein are the opinions of the author. We always encourage you totake action to preserve your access to flavors.
Why is Vaping Political?
The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) of 1998had tobacco companies pay states annually and in perpetuity billions of dollars. The advertising, promotion, and marketing of traditional tobacco products, namely cigarettes, was permanently restricted. Since states were receiving additional revenue, tobacco (and as a result, vaping) became political long before vaping even reached American soil.
As with any other highly regulated industry (think casinos and firearms), vaping creates jobs. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Reason said that 14,000 small businesses and 166,000 jobs were at risk, along with the progress many Americans have made using alternative nicotine products such as vape juice.
By treating vaping as a political issue, states set excise taxes on vaping products to increase the cost of vaping, sometimes surpassing the tax cost of traditional nicotine products. While many states do not have a vaping excise tax, others use a complex scheme of excise taxes to generate revenue.
How Vaping Became Political
As we all know, the Tobacco Control Act of 2009 placed the regulation of tobacco products under the FDA. The Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) is a control center within the FDA that regulates the tobacco industry. In 2016, the Deeming Rule banned any new products from entering the market after August 8, 2016. By 2019 and 2020, the EVALI scare finally caused the FDA to take action against vaping products, with a deadline of September 9, 2020. Additionally, the PACT Act banned the United States Postal Service (USPS) from shipping vape products, although the agency has yet to make a final ruling.
Many politicians decried vaping both at the state and the national level. Some of the most outspoken anti-vaping politicians included Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). Many Democrats also joined their colleagues in advocating for the increased regulation of the vaping industry. Most of the states that enacted flavor bans were Democratic strongholds such as New York and Massachusetts. California was set to be the biggest state to ban flavors, but is allowing voters to decide in a 2022 referendum.
While Republicans tend to favor the business aspects of the vaping industry, there have been divisions within the party regarding the issue. Former President Donald Trump was caught up in the EVALI scare and moved to take action against vaping products, but backtracked shortly after, even allegedly regretting his own involvement in attempting to ban flavors. More notably, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Mitt Romney (R-UT), long seen as the Republican “swing votes” in the Senate, have crossed party lines to support anti-vaping legislation.
States have also taken their own actions regarding vaping, as mentioned before. New York and Massachusetts have banned all flavors, and localities have introduced their own bans. The eJuices.co takes a look at recent political action against the vaping industry.
California: How Gavin Newsom’s Failed Recall Emboldened Politicians on Vape
Recently, the eJuices.co team pointed out how failing to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom may have strengthened his mandate regarding vaping products. Newsom is a known opponent of vaping and the vaping industry. Now, the city of San Jose has banned the sale of all flavored tobacco and vaping products, making it the largest city in the United States to do so. What makes this even more troubling is the unanimous city council vote. This ban takes effect on June 30, 2022, and will affect 650 tobacco and vaping retailers.
San Jose residents unfortunately tied vaping to traditional tobacco products, which shows that politicians and the media still frame vaping in a negative light. However, the failed recall of Gavin Newsom shows that Democrats are in charge of the state for many years to come. Vapers, however, have the opportunity to keep flavors legal in California next year, which also happens to be an election year for Gavin Newsom and other California politicians.
The Role of the USPS
To truly enforce the PACT Act, the USPS has to introduce its final rule regarding shipping vaping products. Fortunately for the vaping industry, this has not yet happened. However, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy finds himself in a unique position. It is no secret that the Biden administration wants DeJoy gone, but Biden cannot simply remove the Postmaster General. In fact, removing DeJoy requires a vote from the board of governors of the USPS, which was intended to protect the USPS from politics.
DeJoy has announced the slowdown of mail services, which will affect the delivery of vaping products. His intent is to return the USPS to profitability, and it certainly helps that he has made no statements in favor of or against the shipping of vaping products. DeJoy’s actions have raised concerns from politicians from both parties, such as Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID). Some vapers, especially those on the West Coast, could see average delivery times increase by as much as 40%.
Like it or not, politics is everywhere when it comes to vaping. The eJuices.co team is here to help you make sense of it. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always contact your eJuices.co account manager or sales representative. We’re looking forward to speaking with you and helping your business succeed.