With the popularity of e-cigarettes and other vape products coming to an all-time high through 2019, the people who consume these products are beginning to make up a respectable chunk of the United States voter base.
Their opinions matter when it comes to the upcoming election. Policies that impact their wants and needs are going to sway their decisions.
If you were curious about how the "I Vape I Vote" movement might impact the upcoming election, you're not alone. Here are some important factors surrounding the movement that could be swaying voters who vape in the United States.
The Ban on Flavored E-Liquid
Was this the first domino that started it all?
United States President Donald Trump announced his support for the ban on flavored e-liquids in September of 2019, inciting anger amongst the vaping communities. This support seemed largely unfounded and was upsetting and confusing to people country-wide.
States were rolling out bans slowly, covering both nicotine and THC cartridges (sometimes flavored or unflavored), and the consumers were angry. The president, through his cosigning of the ban, alienated two groups of potential voters. Some of these voters had voted for him in the past.
Later on, in November, President Trump decided to pull back from his stance on this ban.
Although he was supposed to make the final call on the ban of flavored e-liquids, he retreated, potentially because of the uprising from the "I Vape I Vote" crowd that retaliated against his initial stance.
Backing off didn't necessarily help his position though, as he was still considering other problematic policies to further regulate the use of vapes and e-liquids to legal adult consumers.
In January of 2020, a temporary and minimal ban was actually enacted. While it is a ban on several products, it's not an all-encompassing ban. This hits store owners and consumers but still give the whole industry a space to grow and thrive. This cautious move means Trump administration somewhat sees vapers, vape business owners, and millions of people employed by the vaping industry as a very important pool of voters.
The New Age Limit
After the push for a ban on flavored e-liquids, Trump stepped back. He did this, however, with a call for another potential amendment to rules already in place.
Donald Trump signed a spending package that will raise the federal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. This begins country-wide in the summer of 2020 and will include e-cigarettes.
Vapers who were already legal adults, but not yet 21 years old, may take issue with this age change. Considering that it happens right before the election, this was likely a poor choice on the part of the president, who perhaps didn't realize that he was alienating a large group of voters (or future voters).
The age limit change infantilizes adults that are between that 18-21 gap who are now no longer able to legally partake in something that potentially helped them to stop smoking completely.
But how big was this misstep? What exactly do the vaping voters look like, and are any of them even in Donald Trump's voter base to start with? You might be surprised.
What Kind of Voters are Vapers?
While the media tries to paint the average vape consumer as someone who doesn't know or care about politics, this simply isn't true.
Rather, when it comes to things they care about, people who vape care quite a bit.
They come from all walks of life and have a variety of political backgrounds and opinions. Painting them all with the same brush is dangerous, especially during an election year.
Some of the voters are standard "small government" people who want as few restrictions on them as possible. Does this sound like your typical Donald Trump voter? It probably should.
These people want to know that they're able to get the products that they rely on for their day-to-day use without having to go through any loopholes. When a ban happens, that becomes complicated. The government is making decisions for them on a product that, in one form or another, they should have been legally able to consume from the time they were eighteen years old.
This overstep by the government can be a huge mistake for the Trump administration. His voters don't want the government getting into their business.
Some of the voters are business owners. They're people who own stores who sell these liquids who now have to find a way to stay afloat despite the ban (and potential bans in the future. Does the ban stop here, or will more products be impacted?). Some people can lose their entire livelihoods from one event like this.
Alienating small business owners is not a good look when running for re-election. The United States thrives on small businesses.
Some of the voters are more typical. Already not in Trump's base, but even less so after the ban. Many of them are young and anxious about the future of politics, but already politically active. The young voters were already alienated by the ban on tobacco products to people under 18. Who's left?
Are You a Part of I Vape I Vote?
Many vapers are single-issue voters, or at least, this is an issue that dramatically impacts where their vote is going to go. They won't vote against their interests, and they want politicians to listen.
Donald Trump's actions over the past year could have a huge impact on his reelection campaign, and if someone who opposes him has solutions that satisfy vape users, he might be in trouble.
"I Vape I Vote" seemed to cause an initial back down from the initial ban, but will it do more? Time will tell.
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