This review is part of an ongoing series on electronic cigarettes and vaping. The views expressed are purely the opinion of the author, and do not represent those of Bedford Slims. Feedback is welcome. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an e-cigarette opinion or experience worth sharing.
There's a lot to process about the fact that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. The potential consequences of his presidency can be mildly terrifying to think about. To calm to nerves, it helps me to focus on how Trump might impact smaller scale issues like vaping.
Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University, a vaping advocate, wrote a blog post about that very topic. He contends that the full Republican control of the House, Senate and White House will create a favorable regulatory environment for e-cigarettes and vaping. The Food and Drug Administion (FDA) recently issued a series of regulations that will likely crush small business that produce vaping products, allowing Big Tobacco to come in and overtake the e-cig market. Siegel thinks that the Republicans will be skeptical of the FDA and help roll the regulations back.
The thing is...there's no reason to be so sure. Mike Pence has been longtime ally of the tobacco companies. And Pence is Vice President-elect, so you'd think he'll have at least some pull when it comes to determining policy. And it's VERY unclear who Trump will appoint to as the head of Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA.
No one actually knows what Trump will do. He ran on the force of his personality, which is unpredictable. He might rescind the FDA's vaping regulations, but he could just as easily make them ten times stricter. It will be a low priority for him, and his attitude toward vaping will probably depend on how things are going for him that week.
Rather than analyze the policy commitments of his team, it's better to think of how vaping will fit into Trump's overall worldview. At heart, he's nostalgic for a better time. His campaign slogan was "Make America Great Again." So according to Trump, does vaping make America great again or what? From my perspective, there's two possible outcomes.
Trump could just see e-cigarettes as a betrayal of his nostalgic vision of America because they are too futuristic. And if Pence is urging him to continue to crack down on them, he could be persuaded to do it. They didn't vape back during the 1950's, a time Trump clearly considers his ideal, so maybe the president-elect will look down on any type of e-cigarette.
But maybe not. It's also possible he will end up feeling like the real way to Make America Great Again is to reduce the constraints on business. If vaping had been invented back in the 1950's somehow, you can bet that the government would not have slapped the industry with a whole bunch of new regulations. That was a time when small businesses purveying with new tobacco products would have been considering a example of capitalist innovation. Now it's considered a hazard. There's a certainly a possibility Trump will say that small vaping companies are an important part of his job creation.
My point is that one should dwell too much on the fact that Republicans control the government, as Dr. Siegel does, to predicate how the vaping will be regulated. Trump is really the one who controls the government now. For better or worse (and probably the latter) we are at the mercy of his whims when it comes to regulation.