eCigarettes and Vapor To Become A Major Election Issue in 2016 October 30 2015
I joined a pre-debate panel discussion Wednesday night in Irving sponsored by theInstitute for Policy Innovation. Also on the panel were Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist, State Sen. Van Taylor and State Rep. Matt Rinaldi. The panel, like the audience, was oozing with conservative values, and Ted Cruz campaign stickers were being passed out like Halloween candy.
Norquist, a national libertarian leader who has rallied Republicans behind his no-tax-increase pledge 219 House members and 49 Senators have taken the pledge), spoke first and focused his 15-minute talk on the major issues that are helping theGOP win local and state elections across the country. He talked about gun rights, unsurprisingly. He is on the board of the National Rifle Association.
But the big surprise was when he suggested that one big issues gaining a toehold ahead of the 2016 elections is … (drumroll, please) vaping. As in e-cigarettes. It turns out that the Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton, are bound and determined to yank the e-cigarettes right from the lips of freedom-loving Americans in order to protect Big Tobacco and the government’s tax share from cigarette sales. Because that’s what Democrats do.
“The do-gooder movement was never about public health; it was always about money,” Norquist and colleague Paul Blair wrote in the National Review this month. “Since 1998, governments have collected more than $500 billion in cigarette taxes and payments from smokers. In 2013, Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments and taxes helped the government rake in nearly $44 billion. No such punitive tax regime exists for e-cigarettes. Each time a smoker picks up an e-cigarette in Michigan, the state loses $2, and the federal government loses $1.01 per pack; in Illinois, $1.98; and in New York, $4.35. It adds up quickly, and for big spenders in state capitols, that’s a problem.”
It turns out, according to Norquist, that there’s a big underground movement across America to oust Democrats from state legislatures — led by people who crouch in corners, occasionally puffing on those magical electronic sticks and exhaling a plume of vapor wherever freedom already hasn’t been garroted and choked to death by tax-addicted liberals.
Norquist said two elections in New Mexico already have been won by the pro-vaping/pro-freedom movement. I can’t find examples where anti-vaping incumbents were ousted by pro-vaping challengers, so we’ll just have to take Norquist’s word for it. New Mexico’s legislature did, however, pass a law earlier this year banning the sale of e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine containers to minors.
That and other measures have helped spawn a National Call to Action by a New Mexico e-cigarettes forum, which warns that a Food and Drug Administration proposal is now on the desk of Office of Management and Budget, “and the table of contents leaked (see here), it is essential that all vapers take action to prevent 99% of all vapor products being taken off the market. This may be our last chance.”
Amazingly, this hot-button issue didn’t merit a single comment in Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate. I suspect that’s either because the mainstream GOP candidates are in the pocket of Big Tobacco and therefore don’t dare utter a word against the conspiracy to wipe out e-cigarettes. Or (more likely) it’s the lefty liberal news media, led by debate host CNBC, whose questioners deliberately didn’t ask about e-cigarettes because the socialist media just wants to focus on fantasy football gambling and stuff like that.
Well, my eyes are now open. And here I thought that the concern over e-cigarettes boiled down to the fact that they haven’t undergone rigorous health testing to ensure they’re safe and aren’t simply another cancer-delivery device that’ll wind up costing American taxpayers billions of dollars in healthcare costs, the way tobacco cigarettes did. I also thought the effort to limit minors’ access to e-cigarettes was designed to protect them from a far-more efficient and addictive nicotine-delivery system that threatens to get them hooked faster than conventional cigarettes ever could.
Norquist’s concern is that this new effort at regulation is going to choke off a huge growth industry in which jobs are being created in the manufacture and export of vaping devices for sale in countries where demand is high for something to replace tobacco. I guess that would be the new areas in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan where ISIS and the Taliban have banned conventional cigarettes.
“Thousands of good-paying jobs are being created by an industry that is probably going to save hundreds of thousands of lives. The only thing that can stop it is people claiming to be public-health advocates. These are people who pushed for tobacco taxes to discourage smoking and are now pushing for the same new taxes on products that achieve what they never could: getting people to quit. But their fraud has been exposed. They were never about public health; they were always about the money,” Norquist and Blair write.
Where once there was a fog of vapor and tobacco smoke, we now have electoral clarity.