Forget Iran having nukes. Forget the daily teen terrorists flashing across the news in the morning. Forget the $18 trillion debt.

America, we have a real problem.

The FDA is “very concerned” about Hookah use and e-cig use among teens. It warns that it can lead to addiction, and use of “more permanent tobacco products.” That all really means there are no substantial health risks to vaping, but there is a risk to the federal government, tobacco monopolies, fat-cat politicians and lobbyists.

Vaping has replaced a large portion of traditional tobacco users. Tobacco use is at a startling new low. Last year alone, tobacco sales decreased by $1 billion. E-cigarette sales doubled. Wells Fargo estimates that tobacco sales will decrease by 68 percent in the next decade. E-cig sales will continue to multiply.

Vaping can be credited with potentially curbing seven major health risks:

1) The obvious, tobacco use;

2) Obesity: Many report vaping as a meal course replacement while trying to lose weight, or just avoid sugars;

3) Drug use, because it acts as a stress reliever and calming agent for those who might otherwise turn to drugs;

4) Heart disease: For those who use vaping in place of overeating, the heart smart advantages are obvious;

5) Lung disease: Tobacco limits lung capacity, and reduces one’s ability to exercise. Vaping doesn’t. Thus, logic dictates that heart and lung disease will likely be reduced by vaping;

6) Cancer: This is an obvious benefit, for the same reasons that lung and heart disease would be curbed.

7) Secondhand smoke: Vaping emits only vapor. Not dangerous to anyone.

My background is in psychology, and I would say that a product that reduces health risks is a good thing. Where is the love?

The FDA, CDC and state and local governments everywhere have declared vaping public enemy No. 1! Vaping shops and hookah bars are popping up on every street corner, and Americans are in dire danger of quitting tobacco! California and New York are being hit the hardest by the decline in tobacco use. There is no tobacco in vape pipes (“e-cigs”), but one may optionally add nicotine if they wish. The government sees the big hit they have taken in terms of tobacco tax. This could mean the loss of untold billions of dollars to the federal government. So naturally they are desperate to “fix” (tax) that.

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In 1998, a deal was struck between big tobacco companies and the states called the Master Settlement Agreement, or MSA. This agreement said that big tobacco would make yearly payments to the states in exchange for those states dropping lawsuits against them. The amount each state gets depends entirely on how many tobacco products are sold in the state.

But as government will do, the states spent that money long before they got it. So the money from big tobacco can’t go away, or states start “losing” money.

According to Truth About Vaping, California is panicking over big tobacco’s loss in revenue since it has already spent the money from the MSA agreement. In its despair, it has two options: 1) Ban e-cigs completely and get people back on tobacco cigarettes, or 2) Classify e-cigs as a tobacco product (which they are not) so they can tax them and force them into the MSA agreement so the states get their money.

An article in 2014 pointed out, “Since 1998, governments have collected more than $500 billion in cigarette taxes and payments from smokers. In 2013, Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments and taxes helped the government rake in nearly $44 billion. No such punitive tax regime exists for e-cigarettes. Each time a smoker picks up an e-cigarette in Michigan, the state loses $2, and the federal government loses $1.01 per pack; in Illinois, $1.98; and in New York, $4.35. It adds up quickly, and for big spenders in state capitols, that’s a problem.”

So naturally, the FDA and CDC are moving to have more controls (translate: laws and taxes), and they are using some very effective scare tactics to try to sway the American public.

The cigarette industry is so desperate to reclaim those sales that it is creating its own product, sold over the counter in gas stations, which does contain some toxic products. Naturally, this is confusing the issue for do-gooders who think it is their job to tell Americans what is good for them. They are calling them “e-cigs” to confuse the public, and so that it can then be said that e-cigs contain toxins.

The truth is that the real e-cigs (vape pipes, and other mini e-cigs, too) do not, but the cheap imitations mass produced by the tobacco makers do contain toxins in some cases. Whether or not this is intentional, or in coordination with governments wanting to ban them is yet to be known, but I know where I am placing my bets.

Alarmists confuse the easily swayed by saying that “e-cigs contain propylene,” and it is used in antifreeze. What they neglect to tell you, according to Mark Durand, Jr, is:

1) Propylene is the ingredient added to anti-freeze to make it less toxic.

2) The CDC reports that the biggest danger of propylene glycol is “skin irritation” upon repeated and concentrated use. Kind of like a strawberry – if you rub strawberry juice on your skin in a concentrated form for a long period of time, it will likely result in skin irritation. Dangerous. Hide yo’ kids hide yo’ wife!

The other thing the alarmists are doing is confusing propylene glycol with diethylene glycol, which has been found in the mass-market, gas-station type cigarette products discussed above. This is the same ingredient used in asthma inhalers and proven safe, time and time again, but still, some want to concern themselves with it.

The flavors for the vape pipes (or e-cigs) are available with no propylene glycol in them at all – so this alarmist hype really isn’t valid, at all.

But what about the scary “secondhand smoke (vapor?)” issue?

In 2012, a study called “Comparison of the Effects of E-cigarette Vapor and Cigarette Smoke on Indoor Air Quality” said, “For all byproducts measured, electronic cigarettes produce very small exposures relative to tobacco cigarettes. The study indicates no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions based on the compounds analyzed.”

So if there is no risk from tobacco, no risk of toxins (supposing you purchase your pipe/e-cig and supplies from a reputable shop, and not from a retailer who sells the imitation e-cigs), and no risk of secondhand smoke, why the brigade of do-gooders trying to erode your freedom to eradicate vaping? It is all about taxing. If the government can get the vaping e-cigs labeled “tobacco” (might be hard to do since there is no tobacco at all, but it won’t stop government from trying to tax it), then it can get big returns, and form yet another bureaucracy to control you.

If this were honestly about anything else, ask yourself why there is no attack on the very toxic alcohol industry? Or the toxins in marijuana sold on most street corners legally in California and Colorado? Or the same propylene glycol they are all having a stroke over that is in foods you likely consume each day?

It seems everyone gets confused about this. Fox News even did a story talking about the danger of tobacco in vaping. There is no tobacco in vaping. You couldn’t put tobacco in there if you tried. Vaping, at worst, is a huge reduction in risk (compared to traditional cigarettes, cigars, etc.) to the user. If that is the worst thing you can say about a product, the government needs to be called down for its greedy attack on this growing industry.

What about the “we don’t know what’s in it, just like we didn’t know what was in cigarettes in the 1970s” argument?

That would be legit, if vaping were a monopoly like tobacco, but it isn’t. When I worked in my husband’s Senate office in Missouri, I watched as he was threatened repeatedly by big tobacco if he didn’t vote their way. He would then receive threats on his career from the party bosses because they needed to whip their members for big tobacco if they wanted the big checks big tobacco writes. Finally, we were even offered a substantial bribe. You will be glad to know my husband stood strong. This might be why I saw behind the curtain on vaping so clearly.

This growing mom-and-pop industry isn’t being promoted by a couple of huge tobacco tycoons with fat-cat lobbyists buying off our legislators. This is little Main Street corner stores and a great entrepreneurial pursuit in a day where small business is being strangled by taxes and regulation. Recently, I met Martin Pazzani who is one of those brave entrepreneurs.

Pazzani takes great pride in his product, and enjoys educating those who have been misinformed. He said, “Big government wants in on this for sure. I went to a hearing at the Connecticut State Capitol last month and the number of local politicos wailing about how it has to be regulated and taxed like tobacco is astounding, as are their sky-is-falling histrionics. This is happening across the country as the market potential for vaping becomes clear, and thus the big government lust to demonize and tax it heavily. Fortunately, the industry is beginning to organize for a long battle and has a lot of legal precedent on its side.”

Stop into your local vaping shop and learn for yourself.

I vape after dinner in place of dessert. My juice of choice? Cereal Killer, hold the nicotine. I am not a smoker and never have been. Cereal Killer tastes like Booberry cereal from when I was a little girl, and I love it. But my friend, Thomas, swears by French Kiss, and my daughter likes the natural organics like mint, eucalyptus and cinnamon. Vaping is not only healthier than eating dessert, it is relaxing, and I believe health and environmental benefits will continue to grow right alongside the vaping industry. I am a big fan. But even if I weren’t, I wouldn’t try to take away your right to vaping based on government’s fear tactics and control mongering.

So I have a proposal for California and Gov. Jerry Brown. Last week, I wrote about the politician-created drought in the name of saving a fish. How about Gov. Moonbeam let the vaping industry flourish! As the residents of California all vape in unison, water vapor will be released into the air and form rain clouds. Brown and his environmentalist cronies could finally wipe the egg from their faces for creating the “water crisis” in the first place. What a beautiful thing it would be!

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