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Midterm Elections 2018: Vapers Use Your Voice

Midterm Elections 2018: Vapers Use Your Voice

 

The 2018 midterm elections are approaching fast. Tuesday, November 6, is right around the corner and voter registration deadlines are nearing. (Shout out to New Yorkers— the deadline is today, Friday October 12!)


We’re going to take a dive into what’s at stake in this election and why vapers, in particular, should be amped to turn out at the polls.


All 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the US Senate are being contested this year. Most of the focus is on which party will control the legislative branch. Currently, Republicans control both houses and this election will determine whether that majority will remain in place or flip to the Democrats. The big races are in Texas, where Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is being challenged by Democrat Beto O’Rourke, as well in Missouri, North Dakota, and Nevada. There are also numerous governorships and local offices up for grabs.


While these are the most publicized races, your vote matters even if you live in a district whose contests aren't making national headlines. Voting in your local congressional race has direct impact on a wide array of issues, including vaping regulations. Because vaping is such a relatively new technology, a host of laws are currently being debated that will directly impact vapers’ freedom of choice.


If you’ve been keeping up with recent vaping headlines, you know that vaping has become an increasingly hot-button issue on the local, state and federal levels. It’s not an exaggeration to say the freedom to vape is facing existential threats.


On the national level, there’s the looming ban on flavored e-liquid proposed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This alone could vastly limit the freedom for vapers to choose their favorite flavors and brands. While this issue is not directly on the ballot, the proposal was made by Trump-appointed FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who once worked for a vaping company and has branded underaged vaping as an ‘epidemic.’ The FDA has also floated the idea of banning all online sales of vaping supplies.


At the state level, there have been some high-profile vaping-related initiatives on ballots. The Republican-led Florida state legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment that would make vaping illegal in indoor workplaces and attached it to an unrelated bill about offshore oil drilling. Known as Amendment 9, it’s one of the more blatant attempts to shoehorn a vaping prohibition statute into a single yes-or-no vote at the ballot. So, basically if voters want to prevent oil derricks from being built along their gorgeous coastlines (the same beaches that draw millions of tourists each year) then they have to vote against vaping in the workplace. Not really an appealing choice or one that makes any sense at all, for that matter.


As you might expect, this move has gotten blowback from not just vapers in Florida but a variety of local newspapers and government officials who have come out against it. The bill was petitioned in court on the grounds that including two completely disparate issues in one amendment limits the freedom of speech to voters since citizens might have differing opinions on each matter. (Those petitions were denied.)


Lucky for all us vapers and people who respect other people’s freedom to vape, there are groups out there fighting the good fight. The most influential advocacy group is Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA). The non-profit is dedicated to promoting harm reduction through vaping as a way to quit old-fashioned and deadly combustible cigarette smoking. Over the last year, CASAA has led a campaign to combat the FDA’s crackdown on flavored e-liquids. Its website showcases adult vapers telling their stories about how vaping and flavor choice have helped them switch from cigarettes.


Its advocacy work is done on multiple fronts and there are a ton of ways you can get involved. Step number one, however, is registering to vote if you are not already signed up. Do it quickly because as we said up to, registration deadlines are already upon us.  You can register directly from the CASAA site here.  


There is simply too much at stake to just sit silently on the sidelines this midterm election. If you haven’t registered to vote in your state you can look up to see where and when the deadlines are here at sites like TurboVote.  

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