Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) joined President Donald Trump’s campaign to protect young people’s health from the harmful effects of electronic cigarette smoking.
The president held a working meeting at the White House on Nov. 21 to discuss this issue and the possible regulations that would be needed to control the negative impact on public health.
“We’ve got almost 6 million kids addicted to nicotine. And they’re getting addicted to nicotine because of flavors. Sixty-six percent of the kids addicted to these products are saying they didn’t even know it had nicotine in it,” Romney said.
He also rejected figures presented by Tony Abboud, executive director of the Vapor Technology Association business group, who said 151,000 jobs would be lost under the ban.
Romney placed at 40,000 the number of store employees who sell many other products besides electronic cigarettes, and who would not close their businesses if they stopped selling them.
Romney also stressed that if there was to be a choice between children and stores, the choice is obvious.
President Trump has been calling for a federal ban on flavored electronic cigarettes since September, but he is concerned that this could encourage smuggling.
“Isn’t that going to be—yeah. Isn’t that going to be just sold, you know, illegally, or somebody is going to open up a shop in China and ship it in with flavors and you don’t know what standard you’re getting? Isn’t that a problem?” asked President Trump, according to a White House report.
After receiving confirmation that smuggling already exists with these “vaping” devices, he questioned whether this was not the real cause of the problem.
Industry representatives, public health experts, and activists opposed to “vaping” participated in the meeting.
Meredith Berkman, co-founder of Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes shared parents’ concerns.
“This addiction is severe addiction. This is enormous amounts of nicotine—so much more than in combustible cigarettes. And parents are terrified,” Berkman said.
Kellyanne Conway, adviser to the president, referred to the context of the meeting.
“Mr. President, thank you very much for not shying away and looking the other way at an emergent public health crisis and for the courage to invite people from both sides of the issue in the Cabinet Room to have this conversation,” she said.
The meeting was attended by specialists Gary Reedy, executive director of the American Cancer Society and the Cancer Action Network; Joe Grogan, director of the Internal Policy Council; and Scott Eley, president of the American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association, among others, who expressed support for the president’s actions.