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War Against Vaping or For Big Tobacco?

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The United States government and its legislators have taken missteps over the centuries that have had untold costs and insurmountable negative effects, that much is true. Whether you're for big government or small government, anarchy or totalitarianism, you cannot deny the two sides of the coin: the government has helped and hurt the citizens of this country since its inception. Whether it's with booze or vape juice, the hurt is plainly obvious in many cases. 

Helping and hurting

Help has come through the public school system, infrastructure, social programs, protection (the military, police, fire departments) and several other avenues. However, the hurt has come as well. Remember Prohibition? Well, you don't remember it, because you weren't alive, but you've likely read about it or heard it talked about in the past. The failed experiment to prohibit citizens from engaging in what some believed to be "less than desirable" activities ended with widespread criminal activity and the rapid expansion of underground crime organizations. It seems, no matter the arguments in favor, that Prohibition did not work as intended, and it also managed to expose a huge problem with restricting rights - no matter what the laws are, people will make their own decisions. When it comes to the War Against Vaping, and prohibitionist efforts by current legislators, we can only imagine the fallout that would come from major restrictions on public access to vapor products. 

Whether you imagine there'd be a huge black market, or underground vape juice diy'ers, the fallout would include much greater detriment to public health than creating nefarious avenues from which to acquire vaping supplies, namely, a drastic reduction to overall health and possible return to the past in which vaping no longer even existed, when cigarettes were at their most popular. Here's where the questions start flowing in, though. Is the government concerned about protecting the children and limiting access to vapor products, or are their sights set on the time in which their pockets were lined with Big Tobacco money? 

What are they 'fighting'?

As the title of this blog hints, is there a really a War Against Vaping? Or, could it be more properly rephrased to the War For Big Tobacco? It may not seem different, but the distinction lies in which side the government is really on. Sure, there are legislators with good intentions that simply want to see a drastic reduction in children using vapor products - here's where we point out that we all want that, by the way, that hasn't changed - but their misguided plans to legislate vaping will have drastic negative effects on the adult smoking population, on top of the already existing 6 million adult vapers in the United States. 

We've spoken in the past about the "Youth Vaping Epidemic", as it's being called, and what the numbers actually say, so we're not going to spend our time today reiterating our position on that subject. What we do know, is legislators are actively fighting this "epidemic" as both a preventable and curable phenomenon. Whether you agree or not, there is some virtue to many of the actions - they're trying to protect kids from what they view as a huge problem. Perceived nobility aside, there are other topics on the docket on which legislators are focusing - seizures (can't even believe this is part of the discussion...), nicotine strengths, product approval and safety are just a few.

When you're an elected official in this country, and with every other democratic or republic on Earth, your job is to look out for the needs of your constituents. One of the inherent needs of every citizen in America is the freedom to be safe from products of any kind that may harm them. That's why the FDA exists, actually; to administrate food, drugs, and consumables to ensure they're safe enough for citizens to use. However, as we've seen in countless situations, the actions of legislators often advocate for the wants of a few, not the needs of the whole.

Vaping is a prime example of this behavior. The legislators with the power to literally write change into our lives have been trusted by those they represent to make decisions that are in the best interest of their health and wellness, but when it comes to regulating vaping, it seems they're not interested in a product that has been proven by the Royal College of Physicians to be 95% safer than smoking. The UK seems to embrace that proof and promote vaping as a far safer alternative to traditional smoking, but our government and its officials have seemed to double-down on their stance against vaping. Is this because vaping really isn't safe?

It's about the money, folks...

It's not about safety. Well, we don't know that for certain, and as we've mentioned, there are some legislators that believe they're doing good, but it's about something far more sinister. It's all about the money. As we've spoken about in the past the Tobacco Master Settlement seems to be at the bottom of so many of these current legislation proposals. Not directly, of course, that would expose the truth. But, hiking vape juice taxes to numbers as high as $.15 a milliliter? That might seem like nothing, but in a 100ml bottle, that's $15 in tax on a single bottle of vape juice. That would, effectively, make vape juice just as, if not more, expensive than smoking cigarettes. It might seem like we've lost our direction here, but we have a point.

As of right now, vapor products like vape juice and mods are considered tobacco products in many states around the country. What does this mean? Well, it means they can be taxed like tobacco and, Yep! You got it!, can begin to refill the bucket of debt that many states have following the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). You see, when the states agreed to let Big Tobacco companies simply pay reparations to their governments at the end of each year for qualified tobacco sales within their borders, they saw dollar signs. Those who drooled over the prospect of having a never-ending pile of money to tap into whenever they pleased, whether it be for construction costs or budget balancing, were quick to sell bonds they knew they'd be able to pay back in due time. Only, that's not what happened. Vaping came along and screwed everything up. The states were suddenly out the money they expected to make from the MSA, and were left twiddling their thumbs to find a way to pay back their debt.

Do you think an extreme tax on vapor products is going to stop kids from vaping? Probably not. It's going to accomplish one of two things for sure: 1. Vapers will be forced to pay insane amounts of tax for each bottle they buy, taxes that are going to shore up the deficits for state governments, or 2. They're going to go back to smoking, with taxes and the MSA to back up their spending (kind of a double-dip scenario for the government), and again, shore up deficits. 

Some legislators are even talking about statewide, even nationwide, bans on all vapor products. Bans as in prohibition. The FDA just approved the IQOS for sale in the United States; a heat-not-burn device developed by Big Tobacco giant Phillip Morris, obviously. What's the difference between the IQOS and vaping? It falls as a qualified product under the MSA. 

No matter which way you slice it, this "War Against Vaping" doesn't feel as much like that as it feels like a "War For Big Tobacco". Many decisions that government officials have made in regards to vaping have been ones that would effectively become another budget-source for the states. It's not about safety. It's not about public health. It's all about the money. Money is food and it's the bureaucracy's favorite treat. When they stop seeing what they're hungry for, they'll do anything they can to get it back. 

Looks like vaping is just going to be another lost opportunity for the public, since the government isn't hungry for safety, they're hungry for cash.

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