The 10-million strong and fast-growing community of e-cigarette smokers, a passionate single-issue voting group, could be the the determining factor in the November presidential election, according to a top Washington influencer.
"I think that the next election, at the presidential level, and a lot of other levels, is going to be determined by the vaping community," said Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform. "Lifestyle issues win because of the power of the political support behind them," he said.
Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, told Secrets that "vapers" are politically engaged this election because of Democratic threats to tax, regulate and even kill the practice that was created in part as an alternative to harmful cigarettes.
"This is a viable alternative that needs to be promoted," said Cabrera, noting the irony of Democrats promoting marijuana use and sales but frowning on vaping which uses no tobacco.
Norquist's group has embraced vapers and their fight with state and federal officials who want to regulate and tax local shops which produce the flavored nicotine liquids used in the "pens."
The biggest challenge to the companies is an upcoming Food and Drug Administration decision on regulating them. Cabrera and others fear that regulators could demand a permit for every product and flavor and that would cost tens of thousands of dollars and potentially put many out of business.
Norquist, however, has faith in the community and its political unity, which will be key to fighting political opponents.
"Vaping is not a product. It is a movement. It is a community, it is a political movement in support of a community and it's changing the country in very good ways," he said at a reception during a two-day lobbying effort on Capitol Hill by the association last week.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.