(air whooshing) – New action in the
nationwide vaping crisis, it’s what it’s being called, after the Trump
Administration said it is considering a ban on
all flavored e-cigarettes. States are also cracking down, and New Jersey could
become the first one to ban all electronic smoking
products, all of them. Many states are
now investigating
vaping-related illnesses, with more than
450 cases reported and at least six deaths. Joining me now is Matthew Myers, president of the campaign
for tobacco-free kids, and Paul Blair, Director
of Strategic Initiatives at Americans for Tax Reform. Paul, let me give
you a chance first to talk about your
thinking on this, because I feel like the
“ban the products” side of the debate has gotten
a lot of attention. Is your argument
against the ban? Go for it. – Absolutely. So first, I want to thank
you for having me on, and I want to say that
there isn’t a day in my work where I don’t look at some
of the regulatory reactions of the Trump
Administration and think, “Thank God that he won
in November of 2016!” What I’ll say about
the issue of vaping is that there are thirteen
million American adults who use these products, largely to reduce or
eliminate their dependence on cigarettes in
the United States, which kill 480 thousand
people every single year. And so there’s a political
component to this that maybe has been
missed by a lot, and some of the polling
that we did in 2016 showed that four out of five
of these consumers, adults who use e-cigarettes
to quit smoking, are single-issue voters on the issue of where
a politician stands on things like banning the
products that they’re using to save their own lives. And so I think 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. – Wow, that’s quite a statement, I hadn’t heard that
one yet before. But let me get to
you, Matt, then. So you believe there is
a significant health risk that you think the Trump
Administration should address. Your thoughts? – Yeah, I think they’re
addressing what is a very urgent and important health crisis, and I should say to you, the actual polling
is entirely different than what you just heard. First, I think it’s
important to realize that over the last two years, we’ve seen a three
million person increase in the number of kids who
are using e-cigarettes. It coincides with the
introduction of Juul and flavored products. What we’re also seeing is that over one in four high school and middle school kids
are using these products, and that a quarter
of them or higher are becoming addicted
to these products. Using e-cigarettes to deliver
high doses of nicotine has long-term consequences
for adolescents that are important
to understand. It dramatically increases the
risk of a lifelong addiction, by three times, it increases
the risk they’ll go on to smoking, and we know that delivering
high levels of nicotine to an adolescent brain,
which is still developing, has harmful effects. This is one of those
issues, however, where the Trump Administration
is right in line with public sentiment. A recent poll shows
that approximately 60% of all Americans ban the
sale of flavored e-cigarettes because it’s those products that are fueling
the youth epidemic. What was interesting
about the poll? And very interesting
and unusual. It cut across political grounds. It had majority support
among both democrats and republicans.
– Yeah, I’ve seen that. I’ve seen that. I just wonder though, Paul, is prohibiting a product
from adults buying it, youth aren’t supposed to
be able to get it anyway, going to cause more problems in terms of counterfeit
products or the black market because kids do things
that kids will do, but does that hurt other people? And I don’t know if popularity
is a reason to change policy. – Absolutely, and look,
prohibition has never worked. It didn’t work with
alcohol in the 1920s, it hasn’t worked with
marijuana in the United States, and I don’t have an example
in the United States where teens are simply not going
to experiment with products because the government
says they’re illegal. And it is the black market, it is THC, it is marijuana
on the black market, that in many of the cases where
we’ve seen dramatic stories about illnesses or
death around vaping, that is the culprit. It’s not nicotine. It’s not the e-cigarettes
that we’re led to believe the Trump
Administration is targeting, the ones that are
commercially available in convenience stores
and vape shops, 10 thousand of which are
across the United States, and so what the question is is whether youth
experimentation with products that are 95 to 99% less
harmful than cigarettes, according to Public
Health England and the Royal College
of Physicians, should lead us to limit the
adult choices of smokers who are using these products to quit a known deadly
addiction to cigarettes. – Let me ask one last quick
question to Matt here, do you think sir, that the previous
Administration made a mistake in not stopping this
from coming to the market in the first place? – Well first understand we’re
not talking about prohibition, we’re talking about
elimination the products that are fueling
the youth epidemic. Before Juul transformed the
market, the largest single sale of e-cigarettes was
tobacco-flavored. That’s going to be allowed. Anybody who’s using as an adult, an e-cigarette to quit, will still have tobacco-flavored
products to do it. It was the single largest seller in the nation.
– But adults like flavors and that’s the question.
– Wait a second. And let me finish my thing. Until Juul transformed it by
introducing mango and mint, there is a reason that
public health officials in the United States, both parties, both
administrations, the Food and Drug
Administration, the CDC, as well as the surgeon general have all concluded that
– Hey Matt, I’m sorry, I’ve got to wrap it up here. But a fascinating discussion, two people feeling
passionate about it, thank you so much
for your expertise, Matthew Myers and Paul Blair. We’ll have you back, thank you.