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Pouncing on vaping is an awful move by the White House

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Reactions to vaping deaths are good for media bad for lawmakers

When something controversial emerges freshly in the news, it’s good for the media to “pounce.” We see both sides accusing the other of doing this often, and in most cases it’s true. It’s the job of the media to be reactionary, fast-moving, and as accurate as possible along the way.

Government should not work this way. Our founders designed the Constitution in a way to make government move methodically and with long-debated purpose. It was never meant to be reactionary except in times of crisis. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, it was good to react quickly, especially considering how much attention had been paid to the possibility of entering the war before the event. This was a moment when a quick and unambiguous response was necessary.

The recently emerging vaping-death “epidemic” is definitely not an example of something that needs the government to pounce.

“The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”

As Americans, we have the freedom (at least we should have it) to make choices about our lives and the lives of our families. The caveat for regulations comes into play when an action by an individual adversely affects others. This is why we have laws against drunk driving, for example. It is not simply a personal choice to get behind the wheel of an automobile while intoxicated because the risk to others’ lives and property are great.

Vaping is not harmful to others. It may be harmful in some cases to individuals, which is why it’s incumbent on the vaping industry to take responsibility for wrongful deaths and to fix the problem that has led to several deaths in recent weeks. But that does NOT mean government needs to step in and get involved, other than to inform if necessary. If they want to slap on warning labels, so be it, though that in itself would be overreach at this early stage in vaping research. But calls to ban flavored e-Cigarettes is ludicrous.

This may be inconsequential to most, but it’s a nanny-state move by a Republican White House. It’s straight from the authoritarian playbook to tell people they must be protected from their own choices. I don’t vape, but this is fundamentally disappointing.

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