President Trump Is Terrified That Banning Flavored Vapes Might Cost Him Votes

President Donald Trump at the White House on November 14, 2019
Photo: Getty Images

President Donald Trump insisted back in September that he would soon ban flavored vape products in an effort to make them less appealing to children. But the ban is almost certainly dead, if the latest anonymous reports cascading out of the White House can be believed.

Trump was presented with a “decision memo” on November 4 that, if signed, would have allowed the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move forward with a federal ban on any flavor of vape that’s not tobacco, according to a new story from the Washington Post. But Trump didn’t sign the one-page memo, and there’s no indication that he will ever sign it if the move costs him a single vote.

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An anonymous Trump advisor told the Post that a vape ban might cost jobs and, in turn, lead to fewer Trump supporters in key battleground states. And there’s nothing worse in Trump’s mind than losing his hardcore believers—people who claim that the president is right about everything. Stealing babies and refusing to give them soap and toothpaste? That’s A-OK with Trump voters. But don’t you dare touch their vapes.

“[President Trump] didn’t know much about the issue and was just doing it for Melania and Ivanka,” one senior administration official told the Post.

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President Trump held a press conference in the Oval Office on September 11, 2019 to discuss the potential vape ban, which led to some awkward moments with both Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and First Lady Melania by his side.

“Vaping has become a very big business as I understand it,” President Trump said back in September. “But we can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected.”

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“That’s how the First Lady got involved. She’s got a son, ” President Trump said, apparently only realizing in real time that her son Barron is also his son.

But paternity tests aside, Trump is less convinced that a vaping ban will make sense for his regime, leaving people like Secretary Azar flapping in the wind, unsure of what to do next. Some members of the Trump regime have suggested that maybe vape shops will be exempt from any federal flavor ba, as Kellyanne Conway said earlier this month. Others have suggested that maybe the best way to curb youth vaping is by raising the minimum age to 21.

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However, everyone knows that it doesn’t matter what Trump’s advisors float in public. President Trump has the last word, and he’s likely to just tweet out some absurd idea in the middle of the night that the FDA will need to make into an official and coherent policy by the next morning. That’s how things are done these days.

From the Washington Post:

Some bet the anti-vaping effort is dead, though, especially because the administration could argue the youth vaping problem has been greatly eased by Juul Labs’ recent decision to stop selling its popular mint-flavored nicotine pods.

“It’s going to go the way of guns,” predicted one adviser, referring to Trump’s abandonment of efforts to combat gun violence after insisting he would take action after last summer’s mass shootings.

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Vaping has gained the media spotlight over the past few months as at least 42 Americans have died from vaping-related illnesses, according to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC). But the vaping industry, which is awash in old school tobacco money, has been fighting back with supposedly grassroots campaigns to make sure there aren’t any serious regulations placed on the practice.

Protesters have shown up outside of Trump’s neo-fascist style rallies with placards and t-shirts that read, “We Vape! We Vote!” But even more importantly for Trump, pro-vaping figures have appeared on Fox News to make the case against vaping bans.

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Paul Blair from the special interest group Americans For Tax Reform showed up on Fox News in September to even claim that some American vapers are single-issue voters. That issue? Vaping.

“The big political story out of this is that getting this wrong—getting regulation wrong and going too far—may cost Trump the election in 2020,” Blair said without providing evidence.

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Americans For Tax Reform was started in 1985 by Grover Norquist, a famous figure on the right and a notoriously pro-vape social media personality. Norquist firmly believes that vaping will make the Republicans “cool,” but that goal will obviously hit plenty of hurdles if a Republican president passes the first strong anti-vaping measures in the U.S.

But as long as Norquist continues to get his little anti-tax gnomes on Fox News, the president’s lone source of information about the world, it’s safe to say that any ban on flavored vape products is probably dead.

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About the author

Matt Novak

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog