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August 7, 2018
4 min to read

Malia Obama Caught on Video Vaping in London

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Jim McDonald

Imagine being the teenage daughter of the most famous person on earth — living life under a microscope, never taking a step outside without bodyguards, your every movement scrutinized — and then finding out that life after the White House is even less private.

Poor Malia Obama.

President Obama’s oldest daughter may be a cigarette smoker, or may have switched from smoking to vaping, or maybe she does both — but no matter what her nicotine preferences are, the nosy paparazzi and public health nannies are going to hound her for it.

Malia, who turned 20 in July, is about to begin her sophomore year at Harvard. Unsurprisingly for a girl from a wealthy, powerful family, she has a boyfriend also from a wealthy, powerful family — in this case a British family — and they go out and do things together. This makes her the target of celeb photographers and gossip mongers on both sides of the Atlantic.

She was caught “smoking something” two years ago at Lollapalooza, and again at Harvard a year later. That earned her public scolding on Twitter from the joyless busybodies at Truth Initiative, and a Newsweek piece questioning if smoking runs in the Obama genes. There was also a ridiculous rumor that she had been fired from an internship for smoking pot.


Last week she was followed by photographers as she left a play in London with her boyfriend, and there she was filmed vaping. The horror!

“Has Malia Obama inherited her dad's weakness for nicotine?” screamed the Daily Mail headline. Barack Obama was a 30-year smoker, who may or may not have completely quit cigarettes, but certainly carried a pack of nicotine gum at all times for those moments of “weakness.”

Obama also signed into law the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which created the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, and instituted the premarket review process for new tobacco products that allowed the FDA to stifle the vaping market — and possibly to destroy the independent vape industry in 2022.

Of course, in 2009 President Obama — like most people — had never heard of e-cigarettes and vaping. Although the FDA had already begun seizing shipments of e-cigarettes and would soon go to court and lose to NJOY, e-cigs were still not much of a story. He probably thought he was sticking it to the tobacco companies, like most people believed the Act would do.


Maybe Obama’s daughter is smarter than he was. Instead of smoking for 30 years, or suffering with a mouth full of stale gum and biting her nails, Malia seems to have found something better — something millions of other smokers have turned to instead of the combustible cigarettes that her father struggled with for most of his life. If Malia is a vaper, good for her.

Here’s hoping she enjoys the vape while she’s in London, the world capitol of public vaping. Soon she’ll be back in the land of the free and the home of the brave, where things aren’t so simple. Here we like smokers to pay for their sins with their lives.

When she arrives in Massachusetts next month to begin her second year at Harvard, she’ll have to find a 21-year-old to break the law and buy her vapes for her. Because the same state that brought us Puritan witch trials in Salem, and “blue laws” that prevented alcohol sales on Sunday, has now decided to include vapes in the list of “tobacco products” that are restricted to those under 21.

Good luck, Malia.

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Jim McDonald

Vaping since: 12 years

Favorite products:

Favorite flavors: RY4-style tobaccos, fruits

Expertise in: Political and legal challenges, tobacco control haters, moral panics

Jim McDonald

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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