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Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Juul of Denial

From The Atlantic:
Vaping Falls in Trump’s Crosshairs
A national ban on flavored e-cigarettes is coming.

After a year of regulatory pressure from the Food and Drug Administration and weeks of alarming news about Americans hospitalized with a sometimes lethal illness linked to vaporizers, the Trump administration and FDA officials are poised to take unprecedented action on e-cigarettes. In remarks delivered in the Oval Office earlier today, Donald Trump announced that his administration is working on “very strong recommendations” for the vaping market, including a total ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

“We can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” Trump said. His concerns echo those of many public-health advocates in the United States, who say that e-cigarettes’ kid-friendly flavors like mango and mint have stoked sharp increases in American adolescent vaping in the past five years. In a 2018 survey by the National Institute of Health, almost 21 percent of U.S. high-school students reported using a nicotine vape in the past 30 days, a rate nearly double that of the same period in 2017.

The popularity of vaping has helped erase the gradual decline in youth tobacco use that the country has seen in the past 20 years, worrying parents and forcing educators to take desperate measures, like removing doors from school restrooms—a popular location for surreptitious use of e-cigarettes…
 And, well, of course, there's an "American Vaping Association" lobbyist group out there now having a policy aneurism over stringent regulatory prospects.

"Wherever there is a battle that will impact consumer choice and the ability of businesses to sell reduced harm products, the American Vaping Association (AVA) is there to help.

Since beginning operations in early-2014, the AVA has emerged as one of the most vocal voices arguing for fair and sensible policy towards vapor products and electronic cigarettes. The AVA has not been shy to identify and criticize those trying to destroy the growing vaping industry, whether they be governmental agencies or health activist groups…"
How noble. From their Twitter account: "#Vaping Saves Lives."

From the AVA Facebook page:

Yeah, sure.

Just for grins, I logged in to my Guidestar account and looked up their most recently available (2017) IRS-990. A chump change outfit as lobby orgs go; $322k gross revenue, all execs reportedly working gratis.

All "zero hours." What does that tell you? Need I really explain? (One clue is in their IRS-990 "Schedule O.")

BTW, they're a 501(c)(4), a "social welfare organization." Lordy. SMH.

On Instagram:

Right. Wonder what Dr. Oreskes would have to say about this issue?

"Vaping industry panics..."

 Try to imagine my lack of sympathy.

"I’ll tell you why I like the cigarette business. It costs a penny to make. Sell it for a dollar. It’s addictive..."
Wait for it,
Gutfreund placed a call to one of Salomon‘s most influential directors, Warren Buffett. Buffett was renowned as one of Wall Street’s most intelligent investors. His prognostications could move markets, and often did. He wasn’t a quick buck Artist – no raiding for Warren Buffett. Buffett invested the old fashioned way: buy and hold. He had bought a 12% holding in Salomon the previous fall, rescuing Gutfreund from the hostile overtures of Ron Perlman. 

When Buffett came on the line, Gutfreund put him on speakerphone and laid out the situation in detail. What should they do?

Go for it, Buffett advised. Once one of RJR‘s largest shareholders, he knew tobacco and liked it. “I’ll tell you why I like the cigarette business,“ he said. “It costs a penny to make. Sell it for a dollar. It’s addictive. And there’s fantastic brand loyalty.” [Barbarians at the Gates, 1990, page 218]


More to come...

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