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OPINION

Some Politicians Would Rather You Smoke Pot Than Vape

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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I was a smoker for a long time, too long. Anyone who smoked was a smoker for too long, but quitting is something harder than you expect it to be when you first pick up one of those nails because you’re curious and think it looks cool. It’s not an opioid addiction, but it is an addiction people do struggle with, sometimes for years, to shake. So when politicians attack a successful avenue for quitting, particularly the one that worked for me, it really makes you wonder what they’re really doing. One such politician is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). His recent actions leave you with the impression that he’d rather people smoke than have access to what may well be the most successful tool in breaking tobacco addiction: vaping also known as e-cigarettes.

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This is personal for me, I quit smoking with the help of vaping. The actions were the same, but the results were different – I was able to go through all the motions of smoking without doing it. Smoking is as much a muscle memory addiction as a physical one, and quitting half of an addiction to start makes it easier. Maybe not for everyone, but a lot of people I know. 

Having the option of an electronic cigarette was a huge win for me and at least 7 friends I can think of. We are not unique. 

Harvard reported in 2021, “Some studies have suggested that e-cigarette use can be modestly helpful for smokers trying to quit. For example, an analysis of 61 studies found that e-cigarette use was more effective than other approaches to quitting smoking. The study authors estimated that out of every 100 people who tried to quit smoking by vaping, nine to 14 might be successful. When only using other methods, such as nicotine patches or behavioral counselling, only four to seven smokers out of 100 might quit. A separate study suggests vaping may help smokers who aren't able to quit reduce the number of cigarettes smoked per day — at least for six months, the duration of the study.”

If the goal is to get people to quit, something that improves the odds, by one count by up to 100 percent, is a good thing, isn’t it? Maybe not. 

Politicians have been making noise about banning vaping, calling for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate or ban the product outright. But why, when they’ve subsidized the growing of tobacco for generations? Even money to combat COVID-19, ironically a respiratory virus, went to tobacco growers. Upwards of $100 million in COVID money went to farmers growing a crop the people funding it would universally denounce, if asked directly. 

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Why would any politician speak out against an effective tool to get people to quit what everyone agrees is a dangerous and costly habit? Ask Chuck Schumer.

Schumer is calling on the FDA to target e-cigarette maker Elf Bar the same way they’ve targeted Juul, the most popular e-cigarette. But why target any of them?

I don’t know if vaping is harmful or not, but I haven’t seen anything that suggests it’s worse than the well documented dangers of smoking. Is it because Elf Bar is company based in China? If that’s the case, fine, but don’t put scoring political points ahead of people’s health.

Also, don’t pretend to care about the respiratory health of the American people when you’re advocating for the legalization of marijuana which, last I checked, was largely delivered to the bodies of users through unfiltered combustion. 

Opponents of vaping always cite the “targeting of children on social media,” which is what Schumer is claiming. Who do they think the embracing of pot targets? How many celebrities openly celebrate their marijuana use? Are there any who don’t? Even 67-year-old Bill Mahar has a popular podcast he basically records while high. 

Schumer supports the legalization of marijuana which, ironically, includes vaping cartridges loaded with THC (the active ingredient in pot) in the states where recreational use is legal. Why is it OK in one case and not in another, especially when neither can legally be purchased by kids?

I’m no prude or puritan, I honestly don’t care what any adult does with their body. But I do have a problem with people pushing for the blocking any off-ramp from smoking, especially the one that works for so many? If the goal is to get people to do less of all of it, why make access to that difficult in any way?

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Derek Hunter is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!) and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses, and host of the weekly “Week in F*cking Review” podcast where the news is spoken about the way it deserves to be. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekAHunter.

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