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Trump’s Vape Act Isn’t About Kids, It’s About Campaign Money

Supporting the President on his crusade against vaping is tempting, but here's what's really going on.

As a parent of a two-year-old, I can’t stand it when people vape around my daughter, so I was thrilled when I heard President Trump wants to ban, or severely limit, the availably of vaping devices and e-cigarettes. But, let’s not get it twisted. I’m not going to go out and buy a red baseball cap and start retweeting Kayne West just yet. Trump’s latest pet-project is about campaign donations, not protecting the health of kids.

In a bizarre press conference on Wednesday — in which Trump seemed confused about his parentage relative to his son Barron — the President indicated he wanted to ban vaping and e-cigarettes. Exactly what his version of new regulations would entail is unclear, but it’s almost certainly in response to the news at least six vaping-related deaths as well as a new CDC warning about e-cigarettes, Juuls, and other similar vaping products. A former cigarette smoker, there’s no way I can be objective about the dangers of all of this stuff, which is also why it’s infuriating when you realize Trump doesn’t really care about taking care of our lungs. All he really wants is to make big tobacco happy.

One of the largest cigarette manufacturers in the world, Reynolds American and Altria Group, donated at least $1.5 million to Trump’s campaign in 2016. So, right there, you automatically know exactly how much Trump cares about nicotine products and the impact of smoking on national health. In his bumbling press conference, Trump made a pointed reference to the dangers of nicotine addiction, too, which really, just scanned like a dog-whistle to his allies in big tobacco, and the message is: Don’t worry fellas, I’m going to come down hard on Juul and other traditional tobacco alternatives to help you guys drive profits.

Need additional proof that Trump doesn’t care about the health of children? As of Thursday, news broke that the EPA will repeal Obama-era clean water regulations this week. Guess who decided to repeal those regulations? You guessed it! Trump. Contaminated water is a huge problem for millions of children in the country. If Trump was really concerned about the health issues that threaten kids on a fundamental level, he would be a little more preoccupied with the protection of laws which prevent poisonous water.

Right now, we know Trump doesn’t care about keeping kids healthy because he doesn’t care about the water they drink. We also know he has neither the desire nor the support to go after traditional cigarettes, but that he will willingly co-opt those familiar arguments to attack companies like Juul and to change the way vaping devices and products are sold. The net result for families, relative to vaping, might be positive; being in favor of rigorous laws pertaining to any addictive products or delivery systems is a no brainer. But in Trump’s world, that’s not the goal. Instead, Trump is out to make himself look like a good guy while keeping the corporations that finance his next campaign happy, too. It’s a win-win for him, and a lose-lose for the rest of us. Because if you have to choose between vaping and clean water, I think we’d all choose to put up with vape a little bit longer. Not that we have a choice.