Et tu, Elizabeth Warren?

I have been developing some thoughts about how the “public health” movement is dramatically increasing as a threat to both people’s respect for government in general and support for the Democratic Party in particular. (“Public health” with the scare quotes, refers to the oppressive and moralizing nanny-state political movement whose actions actually do little for real public health, and sometimes are quite harmful to it.) Now I have to scrap the bit I wrote that notes that though “public health” is closely aligned with elements of the Democratic Party, we would not expect support for this anti-people, oppressive special interest from Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Occupy (ok, properly, …from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but I am focusing on political, rather than map, geography), and her wing of the party.

A lot of vapers have recently responded to CASAA’s call-to-action asking them to write to their elected national-level representatives about the arbitrary and capricious regulations the FDA is proposing for e-cigarettes. [Note that I am posting this and related material at my personal blog, not my CASAA blog. This is a personal project and these are my personal views; CASAA does not engage in partisan or election-related activity.] Several of these letter-writers, whose members of congress are active supporters of the “public health” special interest got back letters — almost identical, and thus clearly coordinated — that basically recited the anti-consumer, pro-FDA, and anti-real-public-health party line from the “public health” faction. This was not shocking.

What was shocking was that one vaper recently received a letter from Senator Warren that was almost the identical party line, as recounted by David Forrest (full text of Warren’s letter at the link — it is basically indistinguishable from the letters received from the likes of Harkin/Rangel/et al.). Granted, this specific correspondent wrote to his senator under an unfortunate pseudonym and was writing specifically in support of a rather embarrassing vaping politics website, but I think it is a safe bet that the exact letter would be (presumably has been) sent by Warren in response to more appropriately constituent correspondence on the topic also. Mr. Forrest describes himself as heartbroken, and I have to agree. There is little doubt that Elizabeth Warren is one of our greatest, if not alone as the greatest, champions of the people against banks and other private oppressors. Does this letter mean that she does not extend that concern to oppression by non-corporate special interest groups (particularly those that, in this case, are just as wealthy and powerful as a major multinational corporation), or does she just not understand this issue, and so is blindly taking her cues from the pro-oppression faction in her party.

If it is the latter, maybe she can be educated. If it is the former, is it perhaps time for vapers who would normally support Warren, as well as those who support the non-progressive wing of the Democratic Party, to stand up and say “we are going to support the Republicans until you quit supporting this oppression of us”?

Naturally, that would extend beyond vapers to anyone who despises the Democratic support for the increasing power of the “public health” movement. But the Democrats would have comparatively little to lose there were it not for War on E-Cigarettes, given that most people who highly motivated as anti-“public health” are not supporters of that party. But American vapers (and other users of tobacco products, who suffer from other anti-tobacco policies) are, more or less, a cross-section of the political distribution, and thus many of them are would-be supporters of Democrats.

Yes, I am obviously well aware of the painful irony here.  Professor Warren should have been made head of her Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and thus never would have needed to make any statements about e-cigarettes or the nanny state in general. But Republican officials mobilized to block her, wanting to minimize the financial protections the rest of us have against the machinations of the 1%. So she was stuck running for the Senate instead — with national support from those of us who wanted her to be in Washington to stand up for the 99%. But if she is not going to stand with the populist majority against the special interests in an area that people take much more personally than banking reform, then maybe the only response is to say “we are going to support your opponents until you stop supporting our enemies.”

It should be obvious that people care more about nanny state issues than they do about banking regulation, and with good reason. Everyone whose choices are limited by oppressive nanny policies sees how, say, an indoor vaping ban or a restriction on large sodas hurts them. While these costs might be less important to their welfare than the benefits they get from the ACA or banking reform, the latter are far more subtle. Granted, someone who appreciates the benefits of healthcare finance reform or banking regulation should probably not decide his political affiliation based on being forced to go outside to vape, but it is easy to understand why he might. Importantly, I would venture to say no one has ever decided “I will support political candidate/party X because they want to restrict vaping” (at least no one who did not already unflaggingly support X, making it moot), but many people are inclined to vote against X because of that, and probably enough to swing some elections.

Moreover, a vaper (unless he happens to be one of those who only got health insurance thanks to the ACA) is probably going to suffer more from the FDA’s proposed de facto ban of e-cigarettes than he benefitted from progressive policies. And thus might not want to support the party of Elizabeth Warren — nor even Warren’s wing of the party — so long as it continues to align with the “public health” special interest.

Perhaps it is time to organize around this point.

34 responses to “Et tu, Elizabeth Warren?

  1. What you say is particularly true for vapers in a a nation like Scotland who will very shortly be voting for independence. Do I continue to support the Scottish National Party who want independence, but take a hard line on Harm Reduction? … I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place.

    • Carl V Phillips

      Indeed. Note that in the larger manifesto on this topic I am writing, I explicitly point out that while I am writing from the American perspective, very similar issues apply in many other nations, and that I would include them more explicitly, but I do not want to stray into complicated politics that I do not understand. I probably should have had some note about that here. Please consider Scotland and many other jurisdictions implicitly included in this in spirit.

  2. I see this as a classic free-market vs. command economy argument. heavy regulation and legislative control always leads to less competition and more consolidation of industry into fewer and larger players. That is the dirty little secret of progressive politics – Big Corporations love Big Government. By “sticking it to the 1%”, these regs/taxes/legislation invariably hurt the little guy more than the big guy because small business has to play by the same set of rules but are less able to overcome them.

    • Carl V Phillips

      I really don’t think those buzzwords are particularly useful when trying to do something about this. I think we can move beyond them, and the morality play simplifications they promote. It is borderline to refer to even Stalinism as a command economy, and it is clearly inappropriate for mere FDA regulation. Similarly, misleading is suggesting that there is a single concept known as “Big Government”. A government can exert substantial power to support the rich, including big corporations — which is what most governments through most of history have done (indeed, it can be argued the government simply was whoever happened to be rich) — or it can exert substantial power in other directions. The key disconnect here comes from those who normally want to exert what is, frankly, a little bit of government power to protect the powerful who would otherwise move us toward feudalism are on the side of a different kind of power and drift toward feudalism, treating the people as if they belong to the state in a different way.

      That said, there is no doubt that anti-ecig regulations are only somewhat bad for the bigger players in the market, whereas they are fatal for many of the smaller ones. But I would disagree that most of those who support this think they are sticking it to big corporations. Some of the more vocal crazy people do, of course, but they are the rodeo clowns of “public health”, distracting from its real core, which is anti-populist.

  3. That said, there is no doubt that anti-ecig regulations are only somewhat bad for the bigger players in the market, whereas they are fatal for many of the smaller ones. But I would disagree that most of those who support this think they are sticking it to big corporations. Some of the more vocal crazy people do, of course, but they are the rodeo clowns of “public health”, distracting from its real core, which is anti-populist.

    it’s not even somewhat bad for the big players. the proposed FDA regs will put the government stamp of approval on vaping, but it will completely clear the playing field of nearly all the big players’ competition. And yes, those who aren’t in big pharma and big tobacco’s pockets do think they’re sticking it to the Blus and NJoys by regulating them. I’m sure you watched the senate hearing where Blu and Njoy sat there and took the brunt of Rockefeller and Boxer’s cutting ‘how can you sleep when you’re selling these to kids’ remarks. They could have been armed with studies, facts and figures, ;rebutting the e-liquid is poison’ and ‘flavors entice children’ studies, but they didn’t. they don’t care about flavors. all they really cared about was being able to market them the way they wanted. They know that heavy handed government action, via legislation or regulation, will only benefit them. Back to my point, I do believe Boxer and Rockefeller do believe they’re sticking it to them, for the good of the children – they just couldn’t be more wrong headed.

    As far as buzz words, I only used the same ones you did in your original blog post. I can’t pretend that the Warren wing of the dem party is good for the country when I don’t believe it – I feel the _are_ the problem, and I stated my reasons why.

    We’re on the same side, and we want the same things – but I can’t pretend that Warren, and most democrats, aren’t predisposed to exactly what causes this kind of thing.

    • I’m going to stick my neck out a bit and perhaps go a bit off tonic, but not to far.

      In order to understand why the party that supports the idea of harm reduction as a general rule, doesn’t support THR, I think we have to have to look at the history of tobacco control, and not just a snap shot of the current situation.

      Through the 80’s and 90’s when tobacco control got its start in earnest the politicians (and that would mean democrats in this case) jumped on it. It was all nice and neat with no down side. Tobacco companies wore the black hats, and the white hats went to tobacco control, fighting the evil cooperate greed, sticking up for the little guy (who was just a victim). It had all the marks for a win-win situation, and it was just SO DAMN EASY.

      The democrats would stand up and give some anti-tobacco-company speech, propose new legislation that would raise taxes, restrict tobacco use, or punish tobacco companies, and they where instant heroes. There are politicians that have made a career doing it. Just look at the democrats in the senate that have been pushing the hardest and you have there names. This went on for decades and became so routine it almost became background noise.

      The problem is that everything changed starting at about the turn of the century, and greatly accelerated with e-cigs. Everything changed except the outdated anti-tobacco agenda. The politicians (and of course TC) never missed a beat. They had been giving to same speeches and pushing the same agenda for decades and it never failed. It was just SO DAMN EASY. I honestly think they stopped thinking about what there where saying long ago. They just pulled out a speech from the 90’s, changed a few words, and off they go.

      Of course what they are saying is completely bizarre in the current situation, but old habits die hard.

      The corruption is there. How could there not be with many millions flowing into TC, but it doesn’t nearly explain everything.

      • Carl V Phillips

        I agree that blind old habits are a lot of it. Kind of like those treating all foreign policy as if it were still the Cuban Missile Crisis (which in itself wasn’t even what it was treated as, of course). But even absent harm reduction, the anti-smoker policies have reached the point that politicians that really care about people (which includes some, but obviously not all, Democrats) should balk at them. But no one has stood up and forced them to acknowledge that while they think they are fighting some abstract force, what they are actually doing is imposing serious welfare loss on people.

        • “..what they are actually doing is imposing serious welfare loss on people.”

          Then they are really out of touch (with reality) or they are just plain cruel.

      • Carl V Phillips

        Oh, and also I think the over disconnect is not just that the Ds generally back harm reduction, but something even deeper: The Ds tend to be more supportive of the downtrodden and disadvantaged. But tobacco users are downtrodden (thanks to the government itself, of course, making this a bit complicated) and tend toward being more disadvantaged (they are disproportionately people who need chemical relief from physiological or social difficulties). Contrast this with their support for above-board cannabis use, which is mostly about people who are fairly well-off just wanting to party.

    • Carl V Phillips

      As I just wrote in more detail in response to another comment (probably appears below this on your screen), if you believe that Warren and other thinking Democrats cannot be persuaded on this issue, then, yes, my implicitly proposed efforts are pointless. I agree with that. I just happen to think that some of them can be pried loose.

      I agree that a few of the Democratic extremists on this issue do believe they are sticking it to big corporations, and could never be persuaded that who they are primarily hurting are people (with small businesses secondarily). I disagree with the premise that the big business in the e-cigarette market benefit from the proposed regulations (except insofar as it protects the same companies’ cigarette businesses), but I am not going to pursue that here — a lot of analysis appears in what I have written for CASAA.

      So the question is, are there those who do not have this psychotic hatred of corporations (and it is pretty much psychotic to anthropomorphize an abstract construct and hate it as if it were a conscious entity) who can be pried loose.

      • “Warren and other thinking Democrats cannot be persuaded on this issue, then, yes, my implicitly proposed efforts are pointless. I agree with that. I just happen to think that some of them can be pried loose.

        Then we’d have to concentrate our efforts on those politicians who have the ability to demonstrate a bit of empathy and open-mindedness.

        However, I still find it hard to believe that many of them aren’t fully aware of what they’re doing. ..or maybe some of them have lost their ability to think critically, and if that’s the case then we’re screwed on a myriad of other issues as well:-(

  4. first paragraph were your words – I tried to wrap your comments in quote brackets, but it didn’t work.

  5. Carl – you asked me to come here from twitter. I did, and here’s the longform of what I’m trying to say:

    If we take a theoretical “pure” vaper, one who has no other motivations or cares besides those related to vaping and his desire to continue doing so, there’s no question but that he has to absolutely abandon the Democratic Party at this point.

    While it’s possible there’s a few lonely Democratic Senators and Congresspeople out there, we haven’t heard a single peep in support of these devices whatsoever from any corner of the party and have in fact been being actively hunted by many of them.

    On a local level, the traditionally progressive big cities have been attacking vaping left and right, and California/New york in particular have been trying to systematically work towards a total ban.

    By contrast, we’ve had a few (precious few) republicans show some limited support for vaping.- Bill Burr springs to mind – and virtually all of the rest have been conspicuously silent. This isn’t a good situation for us, but clearly “some support, some staying out” is vastly better than “destruction of industry as an active goal, some staying out”.

    I think where I draw the issue is that you presented this as if there’s a question that Democrats aren’t the enemy here – they very clearly are. There might be other battlefields where you see them as an ally, and that’s perfectly fine and probably correct in a lot of cases, but to pretend that there’s an iota of goodness on this issue is silly wishful thinking. The party has very clearly drawn a line in the sand of acceptable people, and every vaper falls on the outside of that line.

    I think it’s silly to present this as a “do we abandon democrat X over his/her opposition to our survival?” situation. It’s going to be different for every person based on their views on a variety of issues. If we present the issue as the much simplified “is there any positive to supporting democrat X in regards to vaping, and is there a positive to opposing them?” the answers come back “no” and “yes” every time.

    • Carl V Phillips

      I think you are coming from basically that same assessment I made. I agree that very little (to the point that you could call it none) good news on tobacco issues is coming from any Democrats. But the question is, could that be changed.

      I guess one reason there is a question is the following. Consider a citizen who is a Democrat or progressive and also a tobacco product user, who is given a wish from a genie thats lets him choose between two governments that deliver either: (a) a progressive government with healthcare financing reform, fiscal stimulus to end the depression, banking regulation, more progressive taxes, but with the current and ongoing oppression of tobacco product users; or (b) erosion of the ACA, no stimulus, policies generally designed to help Wall Street, CEOs, and rich heirs, but no restrictions on e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. Many would choose (a) despite the bit that includes oppression of themselves. [I am aware, of course, that they are exaggerated simplistic scenarios.] Of course, voting is not making such a magical choice, and since your vote/support/donation will never decide an election, it should be used more symbolically. So you tell the progressive candidate “I would prefer you be in office than your opponent, but so long as you support the oppression of tobacco users, I am voting against you”. Then — and this is the key — you organize thousands of your friends to send the same message.

      Of course, this is pointless if you start with the assumption, that you are suggesting, that the Ds are never going to waiver on this, even at the individual level. If you believe that, then this is a pointless discussion, I agree. In that case, you just make a choice between (a) and (b) (or the real-world nuanced versions thereof) and vote, because those are your choices. But it becomes more interesting if you believe that other than a few hardcore crazy people, there are reasons to believe the politicians can be persuaded to take the right side about tobacco harm reduction.

      • I think in a completely practical sense we agree on what’s right for vaping – threaten to and then follow through on voting against essentially all democrats if necessary.

        You and I seem to be somewhat apart from each other on the political spectrum, so it’s worth noting the same is almost as true for the republicans. There aren’t many actively supporting us that I know of.

        And of course as far as our pure political vaper goes, he would certainly vote for a Democrat if they were to swing. I’m not saying that’s impossible, either, just that the party seems aligned against us at the moment. If we can swing them to our side, absolutely we should.

        I think in the end what we have to do is threaten to burn down the political world of any and everyone that opposes us while richly rewarding any ally, republican or democrat. I personally don’t believe there’s even one of them who does so much as a blink if they can’t see some way it gains them power, and we have to find ways to offer and threaten power if we want to survive.

  6. Carl V Phillips

    Thanks so much for the comments so far, and please keep them coming. I cannot improve my thinking much in a vacuum (just ask Tobacco Control!). So even if I express disagreement with your assessment, I still very much appreciate that you offered it. I just wanted to make that clear.

    If I respond with disagreement, it not just digging in my heels on a position I believe. I am not sure exactly what I believe is best here, and debating the points is how I can try to figure it out and figure out how to be on the same page with as many others as possible.

  7. The problem is I have to work for a living (just as the board and other members of CASAA do) and I can’t even keep up with 5% of what Stan the Mechanic is up to in my area. He gets to the politicians before I do, and he is VERY charismatic and able to sound reasonable while he promotes killing smokers and ex-smokers AKA vapers. And after the time I was sent to D.C. to lobby for my stock options (the plebe kind, not the Enron kind!) and saw that all the politicians were being led around by the nose by 22-year-old staffers, I really don’t know how to actually get the ear of any Democrats. There is this huge buffer zone around them. The ANTZ have keys (paid for by Big Pharma) and we only seem to have begging bowls.

    • Carl V Phillips

      Yes. So it becomes a question of whether we can organize enough voices together that they have to pay some attention. Just for example, Warren may have been helped most proximately by the usual power brokers, but she never would have happened if not for Occupy.

      The alternative for someone who otherwise leans in their direction is to just petulantly refuse to vote for them due to their clueless obstinance on this issue (as I intend personally, based largely on this issue, though also another that I will not go into here). It is better than nothing, but it mostly just serves to bolster opposition to policies I support without changing the ones I oppose.

  8. I have already done some voting against Democrats in our open primary. But a lot of Democratic smokers have not even noticed vaping, they are smoking because of stress that also keeps them too busy to notice us. And the single BIGGEST group of smokers (and diers) is the holders of G.E.D’s. We vaping geeks active on the forums tend to be non-dyxlexic, non-hyperactive, and retired or in jobs with flextime, compared to that population. We need more graphics, infographs, cartoons, one-liners. The only group that reads less than GED holders is lawyers (and therefore politicians) they write but don’t read. Time to put up pictures with 10 words instead of 1000-word essays with a teeny avatar. But I can’t draw for beans.

  9. I fear most of what we hope for in garnering senatorial support from Democrats is hopeless. Even working with my two Republican senators I got form letters indicating they likely circular filed my communications. Perhaps we ought consider where we can make headway in the House as they are more sensitive to local voters.
    I also think that we’re not going anywhere until we can get lobbyists who are not part of Big Tobacco involved. I know Greg Conley is working on getting us positive press but until we can get in front of the house and senate committees we are sorely under-represented.
    Never forget too that we are outnumbered. The odds are not in our favor when 20% of 20% of the population is considered and that first 20% are demonized as social pariahs and we vapers are considered a cult within them. That means that 80% of the population doesn’t care or has a reflexive hate of us to begin with. In a close race our issue isn’t likely to make the percentage difference.
    Does this mean things are hopeless? I don’t think so, but until/unless we can make some serious noise (think Occupy) there is no way what is happening to us will matter to the other 80%.
    Thanks for all you do Carl and keep on thinking, together we will all find a way.
    #tagsup #improof

    • “That means that 80% of the population doesn’t care or has a reflexive hate of us to begin with. ”

      ..not true at all. 80% of the population also has a brother/sister/mother/father/wife/husband/daughter/son/friend/etc..who has been affected (in more than one way) by TC, either through death and sickness or outright discrimination on a regular basis. Most people do not like to see those who they love treated poorly.

      In reality, I would venture to guess that those who harbor a reflexive hate for us comprise nothing more than a small minority of lobbyists and puritanical/Calvinistic “health” campaigners with no clues about free will and what constitutes living in a constitutional republic; hence, this is about a lot more than vaping &/or tobacco use (and consequently, about a lot more than the political divide between the Left and the Right), which in turn means that a stance on this issue (one way or the other) reflects on the positions that our representatives hold on other issues (like freedom) as well. It is also about consistency.

      • Carl V Phillips

        Yes, I tend to agree with all of that. Especially the bit about our side being a majority — or would be if everyone understood it. Those who know the facts and oppose low-risk tobacco use are very very rare. Indeed, I would not venture to guess whether it is a majority or a minority that would support the attacks on high-risk tobacco use if they understood the facts. So this is very winnable, but the trick is getting the thin end into that bloc of the ill-informed.

        • Interesting analogy “the thin end…” I may borrow that sometime. @jredheadgirl makes a valid point regarding the “6 degrees of separation” effect. Perhaps that is a way to gain leverage if the message could be framed that way more publicly. E.g. what CASAA has done with their PSA’s is brilliant and brings some perception. I noticed when I posted them that when I included the lines “who are or know someone who smokes” it made a difference in the visibility. Perhaps framing the third person (the 80%ile) into the discussion can sharpen the thin end.

  10. I am assuming the redditor who posted the return email replaced his real name with his username for the sake of maintaining anonymity. Otherwise, I agree that the damaged caused by misinformation distributed by special interest groups need to be revered sooner rather than later.

  11. Probably off topic, but we had an almost trillion dollar stimulus on top of a $500 billion spending bill and almost all of it went to wall street – all while democrats were in charge of both houses of congress and the white house. So to say that you vote democrat because you like what they did is just a bit of a stretch. Anyway, I want you to at least consider what I said in the casaa facebook comments – that most progressives are generally predisposed to think they know what’s best for society, that we’re incapable of making good choices without their ‘guidance’ and that they have an unhealthy faith in the pure motives, wisdom and efficacy of government bureaucracies. Every day the news is full of evidence that this faith is tragically misplaced. That’s not to say most republicans are any better, they’re just the other side of the same coin.

    • Carl V Phillips

      Yes, that is another reason why we form stronger political opinions based on nannying and the Department of Motor Vehicles (stay tuned for a future post that explains that reference) rather than big political issues: because the party that, by stereotype, gets us out of wars and helps people rather than banks does not actually do so very well. (It does not help that the president from that party is a product of Wall Street and Chicago, but that is even further off topic.)

      I disagree with the characterization of progressivism. What has come to be called liberalism has many of the traits you describe to a great extent. There are definitely people who have waaaay too much faith in government; I tend to refer to them as “paleo-liberals”, or as “limousine liberals” when it has an aristocratic air to it (as it often does). But the progressive movement is intended to be something different (thus the effort to find something other than the term “liberal”). Thus the “et tu” about Warren and the motivation to focus on her as an exemplar of those who should be real progressives and not paleo-liberals.

  12. “…the party that gets us out of wars and helps people”. Well. I guess I just want to hurt people and start wars. It’s pretty hard to talk to someone who has such a black and white view of policy.

    “The progressive movement is intended to be something different”. I’m surprised that you think Warren is any different than any other limousine liberal. She’s worth $14 million and makes hundreds of thousands per speech. She has traded on her progressive rock star image for cash her whole career, in books, academia and now politics. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s about as capitalist a thing as you can do. There is demand for her views and she supplies it for a price. The product she’s selling is populist envy and the peoples are eating it up.

    • Carl V Phillips

      That is a pretty misleading use of quotation marks. If you flick your eyes back up, you will see that I was describing the general stereotypical view, and yes I think it is the common simplification of policy differences, even when it is inaccurate (as I was pointing out).

      The term “limousine liberal” does not actually refer to great personal riches, though it does tend to be associated with them in the most obvious cases (Gates, Bloomberg), but to an aristocratic rather than truly populist view of making things better for people. The aristocratic view generally results in policies that come with the phrase “I am doing this to you for your own good” — never a good sign. There are very rich progressives. Perhaps Warren has drifted as she has become more of an insider — I cannot say I know enough about her to be sure.

  13. I apologize if I misinterpreted your views on Sen Warren – but you hedge with the ‘perhaps she’s drifted’ line. drifted from where? purity to less than pure? I don’t believe she was ever ‘pure’ – she made a killing in the ’90s flipping real estate. She made a killing in the ’00s litigating bankruptcy disputes. and she made a killing teaching harvard law students that capitalism was evil. I don’t believe she’s drifted at all. She’s only been refining her message to make that last climb to the top job in the country.

    But back to topic. e-cigs are not a big enough story for her to take even a fleeting interest in one way or another, especially when taking a stand either way might polarize the electorate and stand in the way of an eventual presidential run.

    I don’t believe vapers represent enough votes to sway any democrat (or republican for that matter) from position that range from ANTZ to apathy. What will make a difference is if you can get the Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business and tax reform lobbyists behind it. That should be our focus. Trying to convince the public health lobby – which recieves most of it’s funding from pharma and government – that we need an alternative to NRT and government regulation is a losing battle. The public health lobby owe their livelihoods to big pharma and big government. they will not bite the hand that feeds them.

    • Carl V Phillips

      Perhaps I was not clear in stating my underlying thesis. I have no illusions about being about to persuade the “public health” people to become ethical, as is presumably obvious from my writings. But there is no reason that ~half of those in power ought to be supporting them, given that what they do is actually anathema to the core views of many in that half, and it is not a whip issue for them. There is approximately no one who is going to cease to vote for that party if they back off in their support for “public health” because they will still probably be closer to it than the other major party (a simple Hotelling Rule point). Whereas there are quite a few would-be supporters who will turn against them (or already have) because of their acceptance of “public health” extremism, and if that were made more clear to them maybe they would back off. That last part is hypothesis more than thesis at this point, but we won’t know until we try.

      As for focusing on those who already are completely associated with the other party, that is a recipe for having the rules swing — term by term, state by state — with the election results. That is not a good strategy, both because it loses half the time, and because nanny state restrictions tend to ratchet.

  14. “I have no illusions about being about to persuade the “public health” people to become ethical”

    Nor do I. They’re acting in their best interest and will always do so.

    “But there is no reason that ~half of those in power ought to be supporting them, given that what they do is actually anathema to the core views of many in that half, and it is not a whip issue for them.”

    There are millions of reasons – It’s the way Washington works. Special interests feed the campaign machine and are given taxpayer dollars via grants, tax breaks, and other crony favors. Lather, rinse, repeat in a vicious cycle of power brokering and money laundering. Both sides do it, the only difference between them is which special interests they align with.

    Public health isn’t a hot button issue that drives voters, unless you start talking about single payer or tort reform and the like – then you have people lining up firmly on one side or the other of those issues. But what the public health special interest groups do is supply billions in funding – grants for studies and campaign financing. That’s why when they speak, senators and representatives listen.

  15. I am a lifelong Democrat, over the age of 50, who quit a 36 year tobacco habit by vaping pomegranate e liquid. I am from the very blue state of Washington, and while I am waiting to see (and hoping to trust) Patty Murray ‘monitoring the situation’ with the FDA, her words, I otherwise received responses from my Democratic reps toeing the party anti harm reduction line.
    Because of this, and because Rush Limbaugh, of all people, was the only mainstream media figure who told the truth about vaping, I have voted Republican for the first time in my life. My family, who also votes, have also been Democrats so far…but do they like me vaping instead of smoking? YES. And would they want that taken away from me? NO.
    It ticks me in forums to see all Dems blasted, BTW. Republicans are certainly not perfect but, at least in my state, they seem to be more pro tobacco harm reduction, and yes, my life matters to me. So Dr. Phillips point agrees with my experience.
    Vape on!

  16. Dr. Phillips, thanks for your excellent commentary. I am a lifelong Democrat who is voting a straight Republican ticket from now on, until the Democrats STOP persecuting, demonizing, and ostracizing smokers and vapers. They claim to represent civil rights and a “big tent” philosophy, yet they champion smoking and vaping bans outdoors and in, while taxing all nicotine products to the extreme… which only creates a black market. The smoker-vaper-haters (who are one in the same) are always pushing for higher taxes, while touting the benefits of higher revenues… but the reality is that tax revenues go DOWN when they tax tobacco and nicotine, because it only drives people to the burgeoning underground market, or to simply grow their own tobacco.

    I have been growing my own tobacco for a while now, and am pleased to say that it grows VERY WELL and vigorously, even in the rainy Pacific Northwest.. In fact, tobacco is a very hardy plant, which can be grown outdoors ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD (even Alaska), so long as you have reasonably warm (above 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures, sunlight, and no risk of freezing temperatures for 90 days. The seeds can be purchased on eBay and Amazon from numerous vendors, and it is amazing to me that one tiny seed smaller than a grain of sand can grow into a BEAUTIFUL, lush 6-7 foot tall plant in only 3-4 months. The leaves are up to 24 inches long and 18 inches wide, and can be dried and cured for personal use, or to give away to friends. I suspect it would be quite easy to make a vaping liquid from them as well.

    [Google “homegrown tobacco” or “grow your own tobacco,” or search YouTube for the same. Some excellent videos are found here, and here, The most difficult part is CURING, which is both a science and an art, which takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if it takes you several tries to get it right. If it’s not done properly, your tobacco smoke will be too harsh. Google how to cure tobacco for more on that.]

    The Democrats simply will not stop until they have achieved full prohibition and can put ALL nicotine consumers in jail. This has already been proposed in Oregon, where one overzealous hater (a Democrat, of course) has put forth a bill every year to do just that. HB 2077 in 2013 was the successor to several previous attempts to do the same, and it would mandate up to a $6250 fine with up to a year of incarceration for nicotine possession of any kind. Never mind the fact that this would essentially mean grocery store managers would have to be jailed, since many plants in the nightshade (solanaceae) family – including eggplant, potato, tomato, and green pepper – ALSO CONTAIN NICOTINE. This is the absolute epitome of government overreach which takes away the right of FREE CHOICE for consumers and individuals. So where did those precious Democratic civil liberties go? Interestingly enough, this is the same party which has now adopted a plank in its 2016 platform to officially decriminalize marijuana on a national basis.

    Really??? The marijuana high is well established as an intoxicant which impairs learning, cognition, short term memory, and even the ability to safely drive a car. Yet this same party openly wants to encourage everyone to get high. Congratulations Democrats – you’ve officially sent our young people the message that if they smoke so much as ONE cigarette, they WILL becoming instantly addicted and die (not true on both counts)… but please, go ahead and get high instead. It’s no wonder that the 2015 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey now shows a significant jump in marijuana abuse, with an equally sharp drop in smoking and vaping. In fact, I have even seen YouTube videos with young teenagers happily lighting up their bongs, proclaiming that pot is a “natural health supplement,” even if there is no compelling medical reasons to use it.

    Granted, there may be some EXTREME, intractable medical conditions in which its use in moderation may be indicated – as in cancer or epilepsy, if all other mainstream treatments have failed. But in the states which have legalized medical marijuana, the doctors handing out the prescriptions are often pot activists themselves (and users as well), who will quite literally give you a “prescription” for having a stubbed toe. I’m not denying that some limited reasonable uses may exist in unresolved medical situations – but if that is the case, then they should dispense the prescription as you would any other… with a very specific 30 day limited quantity, and with explicit instructions as to the frequency of use. As it stands now, having a medical marijuana card – in most of the states where the program exists – will allow the user to simply purchase as much as he pleases, and use it whenever he likes. Now, this begs the question: Where have we every heard of ANY prescription substance being given with the permission to use that substance “as often as you like, whenever you feel like it, and in whatever quantity you want?” Would we do that with Vicodin?

    Could this be why the Healthy Teens Survey indicates that 92.2 percent of teens view tobacco smoking as being “risky” (pg 63), while 45 percent see twice weekly marijjuana use as having “no risk” or merely a “slight risk?” Vaping doesn’t fare much better than tobacco, with 61.9 percent saying it carries significant risk. Meanwhile, 29.1 percent have used alcohol in the last 30 days, 19 percent have used marijuana in the last month… and only 8.3 have tried a cigarette in the past 30 days (pg 58). So why are the nanny-state elites in the public health establishment so OBSESSED with tobacco as their apparent number one priority? Shouldn’t we be addressing marijuana and alcohol as well?

    The Democrats have received millions in donations from billionaire activists like George Soros who favor marijuana use, and millions MORE from Big Alcohol corporations who want to keep the taxes on booze low, and regulations light. Is it any wonder that unfair tobacco taxes have been pushed to such EXTREME levels that well over 60 percent of the price is an added excise tax? Meanwhile, a pint of beer in Oregon is taxed as less than 1/4 of a penny, and we actively encourage its use and abuse through ubiquitous wine and beer festivals, while at the same time allowing children to enter the wine stores with their parents. Moreover, cable tv is littered with beer and booze commercials, and both are shamelessly promoted with ads on Comedy Central and programs like The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live – all of which cater to a younger viewing demographic. Is is any wonder that every time I hear in the news of a drunk driving accident in which several innocent victims were killed, that I find myself cynically saying, “Well, at least the driver didn’t smoke… because then he might REALLY have hurt someone.” And what about all the date rape on college campuses? Couldn’t at least some of those be prevented, if we treated alcohol as harshly in the public sphere as we do tobacco, since so many of these rapes involve individuals who were drunk at the time?

    The simple reality of it all is this: No one beats his wife or abuses his children or kills anyone behind the wheel because he’s driving under the influence of nicotine. It just doesn’t happen. Furthermore, all of the studies on tobacco – if you read the accompanying tables and graphs carefully – CLEARLY SHOW that all risks associated with tobacco are entirely DOSE DEPENDENT. If you smoke HEAVILY – as in 2-3 packs a day (40-60 cigarettes a day) – for several DECADES, you will incur significant risks. But if you enjoy smoking in moderation, up to 5 cigarettes a day for example, your risk ratio is actually nearly identical to that of a nonsmoker. And then there is vaping, which has less than one percent the risk of even that.

    Simply put, we are being lied to by the tobacco controllers, and tobacco control is OUT OF CONTROL. It is only when the people who enjoy nicotine in any form UNITE TOGETHER in an organized coalition to push back, that we will finally regain our FREEDOM to make choices for ourselves. Whether you are an occasional hookah smoker, an occasional cigar smoker, a pipe enthusiast, smokeless tobacco consumer, a cigarette smoker, or a vaper, we ALL have the same enemy – because the very same smoker-haters who have pushed nicotine nearly to the point of prohibition, are the SAME ONES who want to outlaw every possible form of it… except Nicolette, of course.

    All of the bans on smoking and vaping, after all, were begun with the same premise – that it somehow creates harm (and even causes cancer) in nonsmokers. But we have to ask ourselves, logically – if second hand smoke is so insidiously “toxic” that we need to ban it everywhere, indoors and out…. why don’t smokers themselves instantly DIE the moment they inhale??? Shouldn’t there be “dead smokers” laying everywhere in the streets – along with all the innocent bystanders they have inadvertently “killed?” But we don’t see any of that. The authors of one report which was widely used as the justification for outdoor bans even ADMITTED in their own report that the “toxins” of cigarette smoke were only detectable 18 INCHES away from the cigarette, in the open air! In other words, you have NO RISK, unless you are practically kissing the smoker himself… and even then, you must continuously do so for many days and hours, at that. Furthermore, the same study notes that if you stand more than 5 feet away, your risk is negligible, because the smoke is hardly detectable anymore. And yet this report was used to justify the immediate “danger” of smoking outdoors, such that it needed to be banned on entire college campuses across America. Is that being truly intellectually honest? Is second hand smoke really do “deadly” that we need to ban everywhere on the gigantic properties of large universities which themselves are half a mile wide?

    Let’s get real. The smoker-vaper-haters have an agenda, and they WILL NOT STOP until we have the full-on prohibition of nicotine. You only need to Google “tobacco endgame” to realize their ultimate goal, which includes criminalizing the sale of tobacco for anyone born after the year 2000… among many other over-the-top ideas. And all of this is based on faulty junk science and politically motivated agendas which were designed to take away your RIGHT of free choice, once and for all. So what’s next? Smoker-haters like former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and many others have already proposed banning the sale of sugary soft drinks over 20 ounces, or adding taxes to discourage eating sugar, fast food, and anything related to obesity. So one they’ve outlawed nicotine, they’ll simply “outlaw fat people” next. Is that really fair? As it is, their junk science studies on tobacco are set to define a smoker as “anyone who has smoked 100 cigarettes or more in a lifetime.” That means if you smoke TWO cigarettes a year – one on New Year’s Eve, and once on the Fourth of July – and you begin doing so at age 20, and stop when you’re 70…. you can officially be counted in their statistics as having “died from a smoking related illness,” even if you live to be 85, regardless of the actual cause of death. This is not an exaggeration. If you read all the footnotes and fine print at the end of their studies, you will see this actual definition of “smoking.”

    Whenever smoker-vaper-hating legislation is proposed in my state, I need only look at the vote count in the legislature, and it is clear that every Democrat votes in favor, while every Republican votes against it. The same in true in Congress. I never thought I’d be a “one issue voter,” but this is just plain wrong. I’ll be voting Republican from now on, until the Democrats come to their senses. It’s no longer about going after the tobacco companies after all – it’s about demonizing smokers and vapes, and eliminating them from society. And that’s an overt attack on anyone who believes in freedom… because even if you do not smoke or vape, they WILL come after you next.

    It galls me that overtime I walk onto a college campus, there are signs telling us to “honor diversity” and “respect everyone’s right to be themselves.” This is mostly related to bringing equality to the LGBT community. And while I have no problem with that in general, I find it highly ironic that “diversity” only applies to SOME people…. which is roughly defined as “anyone who doesn’t smoke or vape.” Each of these same campuses have signs at their entrances saying, “Welcome to our tobacco free campus.” Even smokeless tobacco – which NO affect on others whatsoever – is banned, and you can even be cited by the campus police for having tobacco or vaping. They might as well have another sign which says, “Smokers and nicotine consumers are not welcome, because freedom ends here.”

    If anyone reading this is interesting in helping to start a coalition to fight back, please email me at – because enough is enough. Separate areas for smokers and nonsmokers are fine. That’s fair. So are designated smoking areas. But criminalization and the outright bans in the open air are wrong, and go too far – because fairness means EVERYONE… smokers, vapers, and nonsmokers alike.

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