U.S. President Donald Trump announced yesterday he will be meeting with representatives from the vaping industry as well as medical professionals and state representatives to "come up with an acceptable solution to the Vaping and E-cigarette dilemma."
News of the meeting comes as the administration's final report on vaping is expected this week. Trump said last week of the report "We're talking about the age, we're talking about flavors, we're talking about keeping people working."
However, it appears he may have another dilemma on his hands as his administration's attacks on the vaping industry continue. On Saturday, hundreds of adult vapers gathered outside the White House to bring attention to what they believe could be political suicide for Trump.
Some argue the "vape lobby," with the #WeVapeWeVote hashtag, could sway the 2020 election, particularly in swing states. Paul Blair of Americans for Tax Reform estimates there are 900,000 vapers who will vote in Florida. This could become an issue for Trump, who won Florida by less than 113,000 votes in 2016.
"If Trump bans flavors, there's a good chance he loses Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida," said Ryan Hallisey, a vape store owner who was at the gathering Saturday.
"He won those so narrowly, and so many vapers, like 80%, are single-issue voters."
A recent survey among vape users found 73% of them would be "much less likely to vote for" a candidate who supports taxes and regulations on vaping products. 79% of those surveyed said they are likely to vote for or against a candidate based solely on their position on vaping.
The administration also has to consider the effect of its decision on vaping businesses. Tobacconists, which is the business category that includes vape shops, is the fastest growing retail segment over the last decade, according to data from the Labor Department. The segment now employs 90,000 people across 10,000 businesses, mostly small mom-and-pop stores. Tobacconists accounts for a higher share employees in businesses with fewer than 10 employees than any other retail segment.
Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale is reportedly even worried about the possibility of his stance on vaping backfiring. Using internal campaign polling, Parscale warned Trump that his supporters who use e-cigarettes could abandon him if he follows through with a ban.
Trump finds himself in a pickle. No matter how he proceeds he is likely to upset a large segment of the population. He could always resort to his strategy of delaying, which has thus far worked well in the trade negotiations with China.