The Libertarian Party candidate is the first 2016 presidential hopeful to address the vaping issue.
The statement of support came from the Johnson campaign’s national director Jim Wallace. It was sent to Kurt Loeblich, vaping advocate and owner of Cloud Chasers Inc. Loeblich has been pursuing a position on vaping from the candidate for weeks. (Vaping360 has also repeatedly approached the Johnson campaign, but has received no response to our questions.)
In the first presidential debate, voters listened to two candidates dance around the American economy. What you'll never hear from those candidates is how the economy is being killed by excessive regulation. Vaping, a new industry offering products as a healthier alternative to smoking, is about to be regulated out of existence. That doesn't make any sense.
The vaping industry currently counts about nine million customers, producing about $4 billion a year in annual sales. With the excessive regulations recently introduced by the FDA, it's estimated that as many as 12,000 vaping shops will be put out of business. As Gov. Gary Johnson has said, the free market and entrepreneurial spirit should be encouraged, not destroyed. Nowhere is this more obvious than the vaping industry.
Until now, no candidate has spoken directly about the issue. Vapers have assumed that the Libertarian Party — with its support for free markets and adult choice — would be on their side, but nothing was said explicitly.
Meanwhile, the major party candidates have made no public statements about vaping or the FDA’s deeming regulations. While vapers consider themselves a large and ignored voting bloc, it’s unproven whether the vaping community can actually mobilize support for a candidate on a national level. However, the major candidates know they would lose support from reliable pharmaceutical donors if they chose to speak favorably about e-cigarettes.
Most vapers and advocates assume that Democrat Hillary Clinton, if elected, would maintain the same approach to vapor that President Obama has adopted. That is only a guess, but it is likely a good one. Both are Democrats whose health policies are informed and supported by essentially the same people.
Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, is more of a mystery. Many Republicans are largely sympathetic to the vapor industry, because of general support for free market principles. But Trump is a wild card on almost every issue. He hasn’t stuck to the party line on many traditional Republican issues, and he has often changed positions depending on his audience.
Trump has a history of prohibitionist speech about illegal drugs, and has often bragged about never having smoked cigarettes or used alcohol. He has repeatedly recounted stories about lecturing his children on drug, alcohol and cigarette use. He also chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate. Pence signed the legislation that created that state’s monopoly vaping law.
With just over a month to go until the election, Gary Johnson appears to be out of contention, polling between 7 and 12 percent. The major party candidates are fighting for the few battleground states that are still in play. And vapers keep working — and hoping — for relief in the courts or from Congress.