Not content with the public vaping ban, Sen. Schumer held a press conference last week in Staten Island, once again calling on the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes
New York State just officially banned vaping in all public spaces, but Sen. Schumer isn’t content. It’s only been about a month since he held a similar press conference in Manhattan, focused on the FDA’s decision to delay their “deeming rules” until 2022. This time he was in Staten Island, but his message hadn’t changed. He’s under the belief that it was a bad idea to delay the new regulations on vaping, fearing the extra time would allow more kids to pick it up. It was in July of this year that the newly confirmed FDA commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, announced the administration’s decision to delay the controversial rules for several years. Proponents say that the original timetable was unreasonable for mid-level manufacturers, giving a significant advantage to the largest companies.
The senior Senator from New York feels that the FDA’s decision is cause for alarm. In most of his recent statements, he’s focused on Juul e-cigarettes, calling them easy to hide in plain sight. He’s also referenced a Surgeon General report that found around 20% of teens have tried vaping at least once. Of course, trying something once and using it regularly are entirely different, but it’s an alarming statistic nonetheless. Unfortunately, the Senate Minority Leader appears to be more concerned with the politics of the situation than understanding and spreading the facts. Opting to use scare tactics, Sen. Schumer said that delaying the deeming rules is “devastating to the public health of our national community.”
Senator Schumer’s main argument against vaping seems to be concerned with their nicotine content. In most of his recent press conferences, he’s cited how one Juul pod is advertised as having as much nicotine as a full pack of cigarettes. What he fails to mention is how one pod is good for over 200 puffs, which is a whole lot more than you’ll get from one cigarette. He even went as far as to claim that this makes them more dangerous than traditional cigarettes, which would be laughable if it wasn’t said by someone wielding so much influence. The only way to be safe in his mind is to immediately implement the burdensome FDA deeming rules which put vaping and smoking under the same amount of red tape. This move would plainly benefit big tobacco, giving them a clearer path to market share.
Hoping to ground his assertions about their safety, Sen. Schumer shifted his concern to teenagers implying that it’s the portability and flavors that draw teens. The company he has spent most of his recent time lampooning, Juul, fired back after one of his recent press conferences. A representative for the company said that their devices are intended only for adult users and that they go above and beyond the call of law to limit their use by minors. For instance, unlike many brands, they require photo ID before selling to anyone over the internet. Despite these facts, Sen. Schumer, intentionally or not, is actively working against law-abiding, independently owned businesses. In doing so, he’s giving a helping hand to big tobacco, who are dying for their opportunity to steal vaping market share.
The Senator said he wanted to “reign in e-cigs and regulate them like any other tobacco product.” This is misleading, as it suggests that vaping is a tobacco product and therefore ought to be regulated as such. But vaping is not smoking. In fact, many respected researchers have published studies that conclude that vaping is much safer than smoking. Famously, a Public Health England study found e-cigarettes to be at least 95% safer than traditional cigarettes.
Not only is his belief that vaping and smoking have a similar risk flawed, but it’s also directly contributing to one of the biggest issues facing e-cigarettes as a harm reduction tool, poor public perception. Many polls have shown that the vast majority of the general public doesn’t believe that vaping is less dangerous than smoking. Conversely, many more people think vaping is at least, if not more dangerous.
By supporting this uneducated stance, Sen. Schumer is legitimizing a belief that prevents hundreds of thousands of smokers from trying something proven to help them quit. In fact, a brand new study from researchers at the University of Louisville found that vaping was the smoking cessation device most likely to be successful. Easily beating out sanctioned nicotine replacement therapies, like patches and gum, and even besting prescription drugs like Chantix.
If Senator Schumer were more concerned with the public’s health than he was with easily sold narratives, he would be working to correctly implement vaping into smoking cessation programs, not attempt to equate it with harmful tobacco smoke. The fact is, the countries who have supported vaping, such as the UK, have experienced a faster drop in smoking rate, as well as a continued success when other countries have lagged.
Given this information, it’s apparent that the real concern of the Minority leader is only to rally support by using an often misunderstood tool as a scapegoat. Therefore we must work against these false narratives if we want to prevent the vaping industry from being overrun by the big tobacco companies. After all, it’s these companies that are already adept at handling harsh tobacco regulations. The continued efforts by the Senator to speed up the implementation of the deeming rules are ultimately doing nothing but undermining small business.
Do you think vaping should be regulated like tobacco? Do you think Chuck Schumer is really concerned with public health or just his own support? How can we work against the continued efforts of politicians like Sen. Schumer? Let us know what you think in the comments.