“If you enact a flavor ban, this will cost you the election,” Trump voter Jeff Kathman says in the VTA commercial, which aired Sunday morning.
Commercials airing for the next week on Fox and CNN, at times when President Donald Trump is known to have been watching, aim to prevent the president from banning e-cigarette flavors, according to the Vapor Technology Association.
The association, which has shelled out $100,000 to run the ads, makes the case that a ban will only lead to a black market of unregulated products and more vaping-related illnesses.
“A ban would either drive people back to combustible cigarettes, the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S., or lead to illegal sales with a new and burgeoning black market,” said VTA Executive Director Tony Abboud in a statement announcing the ad buy, which features voters appealing directly to the president.
First lady Melania Trump and first daughter Ivanka Trump both have called on the president to come out strong against youth vaping, leading to forceful comments in September and a promise to ban flavors.
“We can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our youth to be so affected,” Trump told the media in September, praising the first lady’s advocacy and referring to the couple’s son Barron, now 13, who has reached the age when many young people start vaping, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
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While I like the Vaping alternative to Cigarettes, we need to make sure this alternative is SAFE for ALL! Let’s get counterfeits off the market, and keep young children from Vaping!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2019
“People are dying with vaping, so we’re looking at it very closely,” the commander-in-chief promised at the time, while acknowledging the industry is growing exponentially and accounts for thousands of jobs.
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Trump was on the verge of signing a decision memo in early November to ban the sale of candy, fruit and mint flavors when he reportedly learned of potential industry job losses and panned the initiative.
Will be meeting with representatives of the Vaping industry, together with medical professionals and individual state representatives, to come up with an acceptable solution to the Vaping and E-cigarette dilemma. Children’s health & safety, together with jobs, will be a focus!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2019
On Nov. 22, Trump held a White House meeting with industry executives and settled for signing a law Dec. 20 to raise the smoking age to 21, which also limits retailers from selling e-cigarettes.
The vaping industry breathed a sigh of relief, but now they are worried again, hence the targeted advertising campaign in Palm Beach County.
“If you enact a flavor ban, this will cost you the election,” Trump voter Jeff Kathman says in the VTA commercial, which aired Sunday morning and will continue airing through the president’s expected stay at Mar-a-Lago next weekend.
The commercials will highlight 150,000 industry jobs and say flavors help adults quit smoking cigarettes, which it claims are more deadly than vaping.
The VTA has more than 1,000 members ranging from manufacturers to retailers, but one of the biggest alleged culprits of the vaping world, Juul Labs, is not a member.
Juul was the target of a June Congressional investigation that revealed marketing and flavors geared toward young people that contributed to the president’s moving stance.
The FDA warns that the high nicotine content in e-cigarettes can get teens hooked, naming Juul as an e-cigarette brand popular among young people that delivers high levels of nicotine.
The FDA and CDC found in the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey that more than 5 million youth, including middle- and high-school students, reported having used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days and nearly one million report daily use.
In Florida, voters in 2018 approved a constitutional amendment to ban vaping in most indoor workplaces, effective July 2019. A number of counties and cities, including Boca Raton and Delray Beach, extended the ban to restaurants but not bars.
Still, the ban is hard to enforce, and VTA makes the case that Trump voters will abandon him if he attempts to limit their freedom to vape.
The president departed Mar-a-Lago at 9:28 a.m. Sunday morning for his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.