Fantastic video sums up the financial motivations behind vape bans - Northland Vapor Company

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Fantastic video sums up the financial motivations behind vape bans

November 04, 2019 1 Comment

Fantastic video sums up the financial motivations behind vape bans

From the youtube channel The Truth About Vaping, comes this third installment of their series of videos highlighting the realities of vaping and debunking the most common misconceptions and myths.  Highly encourage sharing the entire channel with anyone who might be skeptical or misinformed about what's going on with vaping, especially this video!  

The transcript is taken from youtube, but if you've ever seen a youtube transcript they are pretty terrible, so I did my best to format it and make it match up with the content from the video, transcript below: 

Most of you have probably seen or heard stories in the news about people getting sick or even dying from vaping this past summer. You may have seen state governors and even the president saying they want to ban flavored cigarettes. You might live in a state where vaping has been banned.  You might even think it should be banned.

Regardless of what you've heard there are a lot of things you may not know. Every single state in the United States makes money when people smoke cigarettes.  This happens through a combination of tobacco taxes and payments each state gets from big tobacco companies under an agreement called the MSA or master settlement agreement.  In 1998 the largest tobacco companies were sued by state attorneys general across this country because cigarettes were and still are killing their residents.

In order to settle most of these lawsuits all at once the tobacco companies agreed to among other things pay the state's a percentage of their profits every year forever to compensate for the early death and disease that cigarettes caused.  This means that the more money the tobacco companies make, the more money the states get.

This money was intended to be used for anti-smoking campaigns and prevention programs but it isn't. California for example spent just 9% of their 2019 money on tobacco prevention programs. States spend the majority of this money on things like shipping docks, golf courses, jails, and even tobacco farmers, none of which reduce smoking deaths.

Some of the states decided they didn't want to wait for the yearly payments from the tobacco companies so they sold bonds to Wall Street in order to get their money upfront like a payday loan, but this plan is backfiring for many of them. Some states borrowed too much and deferred interest payments to the point where the MSA money they mortgaged won't cover what they now owe.

Declining cigarette sales are compounding the problem even for the states that didn't over borrow. Since 1998 cigarette sales have declined by almost 50% an unprecedented drop.  As a result states that sold bonds aren't getting the amount of MSA money they planned for and they risk defaulting. States that got caught up in this are California, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Iowa, Alaska, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

Accordingly smoking rates in the United States are the lowest they have ever been among adults and youth according to the results from the 2018 national survey on drug use and health.  This report notes that cigarette use generally declined between 2002 and 2018 across all age groups. 

Some of this decline may reflect the use of electronic vaporizing devices.  The declines accelerate dramatically around the time that electronic cigarettes entered the market.  Similar trends are reflected in other surveys, since 2014 financial analysts have been saying that e-cigarettes pose a rising but underappreciated risk to tobacco cigarette sales and the tobacco bonds tied to the MSA payments if electronic cigarettes are contributing to more people quitting smoking thereby causing states to lose money and potentially default on tobacco bonds. 

That would make state and federal legislators easy targets to be convinced that vaping should be banned.  Enter the public health advocacy groups who are whispering in their ears household names like the campaign for tobacco-free kids, truth initiative, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, and others are viewed as trustworthy promoters of evidence-based policy but they rely on funding from the government private foundations tobacco taxes and the MSA.

These health advocacy groups appear to be at the center of a complicated web of money and influence.  These groups often referred to as tobacco control groups require funding to survive like all nonprofits but the key difference with tobacco control groups is they want to appear as unbiased health authorities.  With only the public's health being their primary concern in order to maintain that image they are somewhat limited in what funding they can accept. So many of them wind up relying heavily on government funding.

In order to secure that funding they have to make themselves an invaluable asset to the government and they do that by lobbying on behalf of the government, something the government itself cannot legally do. The government ends up endorsing and funding these tobacco control groups and in turn they work together to legally execute their shared political agendas.

On the campaign for tobacco-free kids website it reads; "the campaign for tobacco-free kids works to ensure that the CDC's life-saving tobacco control programs are fully funded by Congress."  This symbiosis occurs both at the federal level with organizations like the Centers for Disease Control as well as the state and local level. 

This is why you often see these groups at legislative hearings testifying in support of increased regulation, taxes, and bans on smoking and vaping.  Two of the most vocal groups against vaping are the campaign for tobacco-free kids and the truth initiative.  The president of tobacco-free kids, Matt Myers, was instrumental in negotiating the MSA which gave the states billions of dollars in additional funding. The truth initiative was created with MSA funds and is seemingly beholden to Myers and follows his lead on strategy and messaging.

Consider that for a minute.  The guy who negotiated the MSA came out of it with an additional squeaky-clean nonprofit that would support his own agenda.  An agenda that centers around making sure the MSA money is spent on organizations like his.  Tobacco-free kids states it does not accept government funding however the nonprofit was created by and runs on grants from a private foundation called the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  This foundation is run by individuals from the CDC and FDA, works closely with and funds projects for the CDC Foundation as well as the Department of Health and Human Services.

So while it's technically true that tobacco free kids does not accept government funding the source of their funding is very cozy with the government.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also supplies funding to the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, who also fund tobacco free kids as well as the American Lung Association.  These organizations team up together on projects that have included pressuring and suing the FDA for delaying a cigarette regulatory deadlines and vilifying the vaping industry publicly.  The weight of all of them together is often too persuasive from media outlets and legislators to bother questioning.

Now that we understand the ties that bind all these organizations together let's examine their reasons for trying to unravel the vaping industry.  Tobacco control groups promote prevention through abstinence only education but since quit or die isn't a very catchy or compassionate sounding these groups rely on other arguments.  Instead dangers to children and unknown long-term health effects are historically the most common arguments. I'll need entirely separate videos to address those however their most recent tactic has been conflating lung injuries and deaths linked to black-market cannabis products with commercially available nicotine vaping products resulting in panic and irrational statewide bans on all vapor products.

There is a genuine concern even at the FDA that such sudden removal of vapor products from the market will result in many vapors going back to smoking. Why would health groups want people to smoke again while the purported goal of these tobacco control groups is to eliminate smoking?  They've also made that task impossible by deliberately orchestrating and persuading state governments to rely on tobacco money as a source of state revenue.  The simple truth is that if smoking were eradicated tobacco control groups would be out of a job so it's in their best interest to combat smoking but not too well. 

Enough to show that they're worthy of money but not enough to become obsolete and if smoking rates start dipping dangerously low and money starts drying up what better way to ramp up support than to identify another target that poses an epidemic to children like vaping?  All the better if that new target might also be the cause of declining smoking rates, because politicians are acutely aware of the revenue they're losing from declining cigarette sales they are more likely to trust tobacco control groups at their word and enact bans and restrictions on vapor products.

Legislators seem to incorrectly believe that people who smoke already have enough cessation options and they should be able to quit if they just try hard enough.  Countries like England who take an approach centered around empathy and harm reduction choose a different path promoting and encouraging their citizens to use vapor products.  In the U. S. powerful people believe that people who smoke, who don't quit, are doomed to die and it's okay for the government to make money off them before they go after all it was their choice right?



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