Big Tobacco and the Trump Administration – Is There Still a Connection?

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Shortly after the new year, it was announced that President Trump had issued a new law on the selling of vaping products throughout the United States. If you remember correctly, back in September, he took to Twitter to declare that all flavored vape products would be banned throughout the country. Almost immediately, his declaration was met with incredible backlash. Now, the new law declares that only flavored cartridges are banned throughout the United States, which refers to pre-filled pod cartridges that are used with the pocket-friendly pod systems that renowned for their convenience. Menthol and tobacco flavors are still allowed to be sold, and vape specialty stores can still sell bottled e-liquids in whatever flavors they’d like.

Many vaping advocates were pleased to see that the law was a bit more favorable toward the vaping industry than what was originally announced. However, most vapers remain skeptical about Trump’s view toward vaping, mainly due to his notorious ties to big tobacco.

So, what exactly are these presidential ties to big tobacco, and what do they mean for the vaping industry?

Trump’s Ties to Big Tobacco

It’s never been a secret that our government has had a strong relationship with the tobacco industry. Tobacco lobbyists have enjoyed lucrative careers in Washington for decades, and the extravagantly wealthy CEOs of tobacco companies have enjoyed relationships with politicians that have allowed for some personal interests to be influential in the development of public health legislation.

So, it’s not outlandish to suggest that Trump has ties to tobacco companies, simply based on history. But, what exactly are these ties, how strong are they, and how much do they influence public policy regarding both tobacco and vaping legislation? Let’s find out.

As it turns out, Trump’s link to big tobacco has been evident since day one. Back when his inauguration took place, it was reported that $1.5 million was donated to the festivities by Reynolds American and Altria Group, one of the leading tobacco companies that produces Marlboro among other products. Now, say what you will, but it’s hard to deny that what this company did was purchase some much-needed influence in Washington. Quickly, one by one, Trump’s cabinet appointees were found to have unusually strong links to the tobacco industry, while the company that donated the funds enjoyed 17 new lobbying firms.

Heads of departments, as appointed by Trump, have concerningly strong ties to big tobacco. Even the United States Health Department has welcomed leaders with a history of having friendships with tobacco industry higher-ups. And, Trump himself has stated in the past that he has investments in Phillip Morris as well as other tobacco companies. Whether he maintains these investments is unknown, as the man is not known for being transparent about his business endeavors.

It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t the first time a Republican president has been closely associated with big tobacco. The Republican party has received $57 million in donations from tobacco companies. The tobacco industry seems to single out republican candidates, as 84 percent of their donations have gone to them as opposed to democrats.

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence has also had a suspicious history involving the tobacco industry. In 2001, he publicly stated that cigarettes are not deadly. Shortly after, he received a very generous donation from the tobacco industry.

As Vaping Increases in Popularity, Tobacco Users Decrease

So, what does all of this have to do with vaping? Well, as we know, vaping is the biggest threat that the tobacco industry has ever seen. It’s clear that the tobacco industry is worried, as they’re lobbying for stricter laws regarding vaping. And, considering the fact that the United States makes a lot of money off of high cigarette taxes, many have a financial interest in keeping the tobacco industry alive and well. It’s therefore safe to assume that Trump is heavily motivated by the relationships that he has with big tobacco when it comes to determining the fate of the vaping industry. Currently, the FDA, under Trump’s administration, is pulling out all of the stops to stifle the growth of the vaping industry. Is this an altruistic endeavor in the name of public health, or is it an attempt to ensure that big tobacco remains happy, and keeps providing those generous donations to republicans such as Trump himself?

It’s not hard to find the many big tobacco players that are involved in the Trump administration. The question is, what happens to the vaping industry when our country’s own government consists of so many big tobacco advocates?

It’s All Starting to Become Clearer; Wouldn’t You Say?

It can’t be denied that Trump directly benefits from the tobacco industry’s well-being. Therefore, it’s safe to say that a lot of the laws around vaping are heavily interested by big tobacco’s financial interests. With it being an election year, we can only hope that tobacco companies lose their grip on legislation in the next couple of years.

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