On March 18,the United States Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). This confirmation comes almost two months into the Biden administration. His narrow 50-49 confirmation shows how contentious the hearings were in an evenly divided Senate. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), often considered a “swing vote” in the Senate, crossed party lines for his confirmation, while Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) did not vote.
Who is Xavier Becerra?
Prior to his appointment as HHS Secretary, Xavier Becerra was a member of the California State Assembly from 1990 to 1992, and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2017. He represented the 30th (1993-2003), 31st (2003-2013), and 34th (2013-2017) congressional districts in his time in the House. He then served as Attorney General of California from 2017 until his appointment to HHS Secretary in 2021.
Becerra is also one of the most prominent and influential Hispanic politicians in the United States, serving in leadership roles in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus alongside other roles during his time in the House of Representatives. He also became known for his pro-choice stance during his House tenure, receiving a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood.
During the confirmation hearings, Republicans criticized Becerra due to his lack of healthcare experience during the confirmation process. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) said, “Becerra is not a doctor, not a scientist, not a public health official. He's a trial lawyer and a career politician. A global pandemic is no time for on-the-job health care training.” Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE)also criticized the appointment. “A wannabe tyrant with a nasty record of attacking the First Amendment is going to quietly become the leader of the federal government’s largest agency,” he said.
What are his stances on vaping?
In November 2019, Becerra, as California Attorney General, alongside other Los Angeles-area government officials, including the County of Los Angeles,filed a lawsuit against San Francisco-based Juul in Alameda County Superior Court. The lawsuit was in regard to the company targeting minors in their advertising. “Juul adopted the tobacco industry’s infamous playbook, employing advertisements that had no regard for public health and searching out vulnerable targets,” Becerra said.
That being said, we know Becerra’s stances on youth vaping, but what about adult vaping, and recognizing vaping as an alternative nicotine product and a method of harm reduction? While Becerra agreed to send California’s flavor ban to a 2022 referendum, he was willing to compromise with vapers, but at the national level, Becerra has significantly more power and influence to enact flavor bans. He alsohas the backing of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a powerful anti-vaping and anti-tobacco nonprofit group.
Becerra’s words and actions have shown that he may be cracking down on the vaping industry. As of this writing, it is unknown whether or not the vape mail ban will be immediately enforced. However, the vaping industry is hopeful that Becerra will give the vaping industry time to either gain an exemption or find alternative ways of shipping their products before the ban on vape mail by the USPS. FedEx, DHL, and UPS have all ended shipping of vaping products to retail customers.
That’s all for this edition of State of Vape. Keep yourself informed by reading the eJuices.co blog. 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.