Blumenthal politicizes COVID-19 in nationwide push to ban vaping (not smoking)

Senator Richard Blumenthal is now politicizing the COVID-19 outbreak in yet another attempt to ban the sales of all flavored vaping products nationwide.  According to the democratic politician from Connecticut, vaping – not smoking – exacerbates coronavirus symptoms while also having the potential to spread the virus to others through its e-liquid “mist.”

Blumenthal has had a political bee in his bonnet about vaping since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reclassified vapes as “tobacco products” under the 2016 FDA deeming regulations.  Since then, he has called for vapor products to be prohibited after an alleged surge in e-cig explosions in mid-2016 and was instrumental in convincing the airlines to ban vapor devices during in-flight travel. "Anybody who is smoking an e-cigarette ought to be aware for the potential of it to explode in your mouth," said Blumenthal at the time.

Related Article:  Sen. Blumenthal latest to call for e-cigs recall after surge in recent explosions

More recently during a televised interview on Saturday while the rest of America was preparing to celebrate Easter and Passover, Blumenthal told a local TV station that he is working behind the scenes with his congressional colleagues to craft legislation that would ban the sale of these products immediately.  

While he also says that he is seeking bipartisan support, Republicans – for the most part – have been reluctant to embrace such harsh restrictive measures.  President Trump has also been skittish on the notion of issuing federal vaping bans.

Smoking, not vaping, remains the chief concern amid coronavirus outbreak

However, the COVID-19 outbreak is putting extreme pressure on politicians from both sides of the political aisle to take decisive actions to “flatten the curve” so that Americans can get back to work.  In fact, elected officials like Blumenthal seem so desperate to gain political favor with voters that he used the word “deadly” in relation to vaping at least three times during his News 12  interview.  Furthermore, nowhere during his interview does Blumenthal even mention smoking. 

“Vaping is deadly.  Vaping sends a mist of misalike virus that can infect others, but it also aggravates and potentially can be deadly to anyone who does vaping because it aggravates the infection…
“I’m advocating a ban on all flavored vaping products because they’re particularly luring to young people right now when we face an epidemic, and we need to stop that epidemic of both vaping and coronavirus…
“Vaping can cause deadly complications for anyone who uses these products, but it will also infect others.  People should be smart, listen to the scientists, and stop vaping.”

The trouble with Blumenthal’s recommendations to “listen to the scientists” is that the scientists are not totally on-board with his outlandish claims.  While the Surgeon General is publicly recommending against smoking and vaping to reduce the risks of developing COBVID-19, the stronger emphasis is always on combustible tobacco products.  To claim that vaping is more dangerous than smoking is not based in scientific fact.

Related Article:  NYU study: Vaping ‘saves lives’ and is ‘substantially less harmful’ than smoking

The issue of vaping versus smoking during the COVID-19 lockdown is the topic of a Time Magazine article from March 23.  Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, says that the “clearer cause for concern” during the outbreak is combustible tobacco – not tobacco-free vaping.

Furthermore, banning the latter without banning the former would likely drive millions of at-risk Americans back into the loving arms of Big Tobacco which could be truly deadly on multiple fronts. “Relapsing to smoking is the worst thing they could do,” says Siegel.  The science definitively shows that smoking inhibits the body’s ability to heal itself from infections.  With vaping, the science is less clear.

The Wall Street Journal also seems to support this argument.  In late October, the conservative-leaning newspaper said that the sales of conventional cigarettes are soaring as more and more states insist on flavor bans for vapes.  While more research is still needed regarding the safety of vaping, scientists like those from the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom already say that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking.  This implies that if politicians want to ban anything in the name of COVID-19 prevention, it should be smoking rather than vaping. 

Related Article:  COVID-19 closes thousands of ‘non-essential’ vape shops but cigarettes still easily available

(Image courtesy of News 12)

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