Many e-cigarette users are outraged at President Trump for proposing to ban flavored vaping liquids, saying he failed to address the real culprit for the rise in vaping-related illnesses: a rise in black-market products that combine THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, with poisonous oils.
Rebecca Deighan, a Trump supporter and co-owner of the Salt Lake City tobacco shop The Smoke House, told the Washington Examiner that the government is unfairly targeting a product that has helped countless people, including her husband, quit smoking cigarettes. She said she has seen it firsthand in her store.
“We were very upset with Trump when he came out to say we’re banning e-liquid,” Deighan said. “I mean what the hell?” She noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said most of the patients who’ve fallen prey to the illness have reported using e-cigarettes with THC.
A recent rise in teen vaping has spurred more intense regulatory actions by the FDA, including a ban last autumn on selling all flavors, excluding menthol and tobacco, in brick-and-mortar stores. Manufacturing giant Juul has come under fire for marketing flavors, such as crème brûlée and mango, to teens in campaigns reminiscent of the colorful Camel cigarette ads. The regulatory crackdown has intensified following a spike in vaping-related illnesses in the recent weeks that have been linked to six deaths and 380 hospital admissions. Trump has moved to ban all flavored vaping products in an effort to keep them away from teens.
Adult nicotine vapers say the latest attempt to curb what the FDA calls a vaping “epidemic” ignores the meteoric rise of counterfeit THC cartridges, which researchers are now beginning to examine more closely.
FDA investigators recently found vitamin E oil in samples of marijuana used by patients across the country. Vitamin E is commonly used in skincare products and nutritional supplements but is toxic when inhaled. Vapers say that outlawing flavors will create a void to be filled with similar black-market nicotine cartridges containing the same cheap, poisonous ingredients.
Former smoker-turned e-cigarette user Leslie Ross told the Washington Examiner that fellow vapers are angry about Trump’s ban because it uses nicotine vaping products as a scapegoat. “The media, the government, and anyone else not shedding light on the issue of the black-market THC cartridges is what got us here,” she said.
More than 480,000 people die in the United States each year from smoking cigarettes or inhaling secondhand smoke. Scientists and government regulators know exactly which carcinogens make up regular cigarettes, but vaping liquids have not been researched nearly as much. E-cigarette users say regulators are overreacting and targeting vaping products in reaction to the sudden increase in illnesses.
“Cigarettes are deadly; we all know this. Alcohol is deadly. I’ve had family members die from cirrhosis, and had a family member killed by a drunk driver, yet alcohol is legal,” Ross said. “I also know that President Trump will lose supporters if he goes through with this ban.”
Vaping lobbyists and industry spokesmen have used the same argument to try to shield vaping products from heavy government scrutiny. The FDA, however, has justified its efforts on the basis of keeping teens from using tobacco products.