Vape Ban Could Swing Election Against Trump

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Posted by Paul Blair on Friday, November 1st, 2019, 5:12 PM PERMALINK

According to a Friday afternoon Axios scoop, "The Trump administration plans to finalize a ban on almost all flavored vaping products, with exemptions only for tobacco and menthol flavors, according to sources familiar with the plan. An announcement is expected next week."

But a poll conducted last week by Trump's campaign pollster John McLaughlin follows an ATR analysis of the number of adult vapers in battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida. That analysis, based on FDA data of adult use of e-cigarettes, showed that in 12 swing states, there are more than 4.1 million adult vapers, far more than the number needed to tip the election one way or the other.

In a new national poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, a significant number of adults that use e-cigarettes in seventeen key battleground states indicate that they will reject President Donald Trump’s re-election bid if his administration moves forward on a proposed plan to ban all flavored e-cigarettes, on that issue alone. The proposal to ban flavored vapor products is currently under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration and being championed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. 

The McLaughlin firm was a principal polling firm for Donald Trump in 2016 and remains a trusted ally for the administration. The poll was commissioned by the Vapor Technology Association. According to the pollsters

Four in five (83%) vapor consumers are likely to decide their vote based solely on a candidate’s position on nicotine vapor products and issues. Half (50%) are “very” likely to be single issue voters. 

This is almost identical to the polling conducted in part by Americans for Tax Reform in October of 2016, which can be found here. 

McLaughlin further concluded:  

Nearly all (96%) of these vapor consumers are likely to vote in the 2020 general elections. Four in five (85%) are “definitely” voting. Among the 4% who are less likely to vote, the majority (59%) would be likely to come out to vote if lawmakers banned the sale and use nicotine vapor products. 

These vapor consumers favor the Republican candidate on the generic ballot (46% to 24%), but 30% are undecided and up for grabs in the battleground states. 

Supporting a ban on flavors in all nicotine vapor products is a political liability. Nearly all (96%) vapor consumers are LESS likely to vote for a candidate who supports a flavor ban. The intensity (92% much less likely) shows the passion they share on this issue. 

The White House recently confirmed to the Washington Post that the “opinion of the [Trump] campaign" was that ‘banning flavored e-cigarettes might cost Trump reelection,’ an assertion published in the Washington Examiner based on an ATR analysis of likely single-issue adult vapers in key battleground states.  

McLaughlin also concluded that there “is political upside for candidates who oppose a ban on flavors in all nicotine vapor products. Virtually nine in ten (88%) vapor consumers are MORE likely to vote for a candidate who opposes a flavor ban. Eight in ten (79%) are ‘much’ MORE likely to support such a candidate.” 

On the flip side, if HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Acting FDA Commissioner successfully convince the White House to implement a flavor ban, McLaughlin concluded that “vapor consumers in Trump’s base would likely turn on him over this single issue.”  

Although vapor consumers currently approve of the job Donald Trump is currently doing as President (51-44), 74% said that they would be less likely to vote for him, with 65% saying they would be “much less” likely to vote for Trump. Among key base and supporters, it’s significant: 

  • Approve Trump: 65% less likely; 
  • Republicans: 65% less likely; 
  • Conservatives: 62% less likely; 
  • Independent Men: 83% less likely; 
  • Independent Women: 79% less likely.  
     

Prior to e-cigarettes, 84% of respondents smoked a pack of cigarettes a day or more, with 94% reporting no longer smoking cigarettes due to nicotine vapor products. More than half smoked for at least 20 years before quitting. 

“This new poll further confirms what Americans for Tax Reform has long argued, that millions of adults who use flavored nicotine e-cigarettes to quit smoking will vote on that issue and that issue alone. Banning flavors would be a significant political liability in every single one of the states that Donald Trump needs to win next year, especially in states like Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin which have at least two million adult vapers alone,” said Paul Blair of Americans for Tax Reform. 

“As McLaughlin suggests, 74% of vapers in these states voting against the President because of this issue would cost him big. McLaughlin is a trusted pollster for the President so it is our hope that this puts a stop to the FDA and HHS's misguided plans to hand Democrats a win in 2020 by banning life-saving flavored e-cigarettes. Prohibition is not a winning proposition. Instead of demonizing people who are improving their own health by transitioning to products that are 95% less harmful, the federal government should focus its attention on the true cause of recent illnesses and death: black market THC and marijuana,” said Blair.

The FDA's Michael Bloomberg-style push for a flavored e-cigarette ban disregards the importance of flavors in transitioning adult smokers away from cigarettes onto less harmful alternatives. In an analysis published in the journal Harm Reduction last year, the evidence suggests that flavored products are the overwhelming preference for adults, with tobacco and menthol ranking outside of the top five consumer preferences.

Banning flavored e-cigarettes for adults would force adult vapers to go back to smoking or to seek out products on the dangerous black market.

The poll of adult vapor voters was commissioned by the Vapor Technology Association and conducted between October 17 and 22 in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The full crosstabs can be found here. 

Read more: Conservative Groups Urge President to Reject Flavored E-Cigarette Ban

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