Well, now we have it—our new president-elect Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, the question on many vapers’ minds is this: “how will vaping policy change under the new presidency?”
Unfortunately, Trump has not spoken directly about vaping or e-cigarette policy at all, but many vapers are still expressing “cautious optimism” that the new president could mean a brighter future for vaping.
The political discussion leading up to the election was disheartening to vapers, as none of the major party candidates addressed the issue of vaping policy at all. It was an especially important issue this year, since the FDA enacted its landmark e-cigarette deeming regulations that have brought the entire vaping industry under threat.
But even though no presidential candidate besides Gary Johnson even brought up vaping during the election, when asked to choose the most pro-vaping candidate, a majority—36 percent—said Donald Trump was their most likely ally.
Trump’s Platform: Pro-Vape?
Because of Trump’s pro-business, anti-regulation political views, it seems likely that he will support less restrictive regulations on vapor products. This is what the “Vaping Congressman” Duncan Hunter was counting on when he endorsed Trump’s candidacy despite the fact that he hadn’t stated his official position on vaping.
Tobacco researcher Dr. Michael Siegel, from Boston University, expresses the sentiment of many vapers when he says “with a Trump presidency, and with Republican control of the Senate, we ironically have a tremendous opportunity to once and for all craft a sensible regularory strategy for electronic cigarettes and vaping products.”
Despite the fact that most vapers tend to be democrats, it has so far been republican politicians who have been the most supportive of vaping. Democratic members of congress were the main forces advocating the FDA’s e-cigarette deeming rules in the first place, as well as the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that it is based on.
Besides his anti-regulation stance, Donald Trump has vapers hopeful that he will roll back some of the harsh e-cigarette regulations introduced during Obama’s time in office. Trump seems to hate pretty much every piece of legislation passed by President Obama and, in line with his desire to de-regulate many areas of commerce, he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and reform the FDA.
This could bode well for vaping advocates, who have been fighting the FDA’s restrictive approach to e cigarettes for years.
There is one kink in Trump’s pro-vaping image; his vice-president Mike Pence was the governor who signed one of the most unpopular vaping laws ever. As governor of Indiana he approved an e-cigarette regulation that turned into a fiasco when the state gave a private firm a monopoly over choosing vapor products were allowed to be sold in the state.
However, despite the fact that he voted for a very poor vaping policy, vaping advocates point out that he has taken a soft stance on tobacco regulation in the past.
Trump’s Rocky Relationship with the FDA
Since the FDA’s deeming rules, which are expected to wipe out 99 percent of the vaping industry, were first announced, the vapor industry has been fighting to find a solution. Especially since the deeming rules essentially treat e-cigarettes even more harshly than traditional cigarettes, pro-vaping activists are hopeful they can convince regulators to ease the regulations before they go into full force in the coming years. With Trump as president, the possibility seems much more likely.
The most promising solution currently in the works is the Cole-Bishop amendment, which would exempt most e-cigarette products on the market from the costly FDA approval process that would have crippled the industry.
But this legislation would only exempt vapor products on the market before August, 2016 from the approval process. It’s better than the current cut-off date that’s set in 2007, but it would still mean that new e-liquids and e-cigarettes would have to go through FDA approval.
With Trump as the new president, however, new options for safeguarding the e-cigarette industry from the FDA’s unreasonable regulations may emerge. Trump seems to have a personal beef with the FDA, and has promised to reform the agency and “put greater focus on the need of patients for new and innovative medical products.” And while e-cigarettes may not be medical products, they certainly fit the bill as a new and innovative technology with great potential for reforming public smoking and health.
If Trump truly does reform the FDA by reducing regulatory barriers and quickening the FDA approval process, this could be good news for the vapor industry, which is under threat of being buried under the cost of the FDA’s pre-market approval requirements.
Vapers just have to hope that Trump will take notice of the vapor industry’s plight and either loosen the control the FDA has over vapor products or target the e-cigarette deeming regulations directly for reform.
Will This Be a Turning Point for Vaping Policy?
Pro-vaping scientists and politicians have for many years argued that it is best for smokers and for public health as a whole to remove barriers that make e-cigarettes less accessible, and Trump might be in the best position to make that happen.
Many believe that if e-cigarette users and the vaping industry rally together for the cause, they can get Trump to notice and take action on the problems facing the vaping industry. The vaping movement has just the right amount of anti-authority attitude, deregulation sentiment, and small business charm to appeal to the free-market loving, regulation-hating president-elect Trump.
With his anti-FDA and anti-regulation stance, Trump could end up being the vaping community’s most powerful political ally. America is certainly going to see some changes in the coming years, and only time will tell if Trump’s presidency will be a turning point for the vaping movement or just an empty hope.