House of Cards Season 4 and Vaping – Get Your Tinfoil Helmet Ready
I just finished Season 4 of House of Cards – who’s with me? Awesome, right? Is Claire Underwood the most evil character that has ever graced a television screen? Or is Frank Underwood? I can’t decide which one of them is more evil. The last scene was just way over the line – I cannot believe we have to wait a YEAR for Season 5. That alone is reason enough to be feeling the blues right now. But it’s more than that.
Maybe Frank Underwood Should Run for President
Here is what I found most amazing at the end of it all (I have no life, I binge-watched the whole season this weekend); our actual, real-life presidential election going on right now here in the United States is actually harder to believe and more terrifying than the fake one on House of Cards. And the fictional corrupt, broken government on House of Cards also functions far better and in a more bipartisan, realistic manner than ours does in real life. Step up your game, American government; let’s try and be at least as good as the fictional Netflix series featuring a horrible, corrupt American government that still manages to pass laws and confirm nominees.
Speaking of Countries in Need of a Frank Underwood Presidency
And it isn’t just here – are you watching what is going on in Brazil? Talk about a plot line for Season 5, if the writers are running out of ideas… The corruption in Brazil is so bad it is estimated to reduce their annual Gross Domestic Product by 3-5%. We are talking billions of dollars here, siphoned out of the public funds because of corruption, while the people are struggling to get by. Who would have thought that there might end up being public corruption relating to a state run oil company? Besides everyone, that is. How’s that for depressing, folks? Strap on your Prozac, it’s only going downhill from here.
Yeah, But What Does This Have to do With Vaping?
I can’t lie, this primary season has me focused on presidential politics to the exclusion of almost all else. As a person with a little-used political science degree, I have dusted it off for the occasion, and devoted my recent reading to relearning all the political theories I have forgotten over the past twenty years. What is happening right now is one for the ages, and if you have the smallest bit of political junkie in you, then this is really an engrossing time. But, to be honest, the presidency itself has very little effect on one of the issues I hold near and dear: vaping rights!
While I Wasn’t Looking, Vaping Rights Were Further Impacted
So while I watch the reality show that is our current presidential election, the powers that be in state and local legislatures throughout the country continue to have knee-jerk reactions to vaping; between local and state restrictive laws and taxes being passed at alarming rates from Hawaii to Massachusetts, and the forthcoming FDA deeming regulations, vaping is about to be relegated to the murky world of alcohol and tobacco; a vice that is semi-legal, for some of the population, and widely viewed as negative by the rest of society. On the most recent list I was able to find online, there are now eight state laws that restrict e-cigarette use in smoke-free venues, 16 states which have enacted laws restricting e-cigarette use in other venues, 475 local laws restricting e-cigarette use in smoke-free venues, and an additional 318 local laws restricting e-cigarette use in venues that are not smoke-free. So over 800 laws have been passed which restrict the use of e-cigarettes, even in places that are not smoke-free.
If you want to know why these laws are being passed at an alarming rate throughout the country, and why the FDA is about to pass deeming regulations that will decimate, if not eliminate, the vaping industry, one need look no further than House of Cards, the rhetoric in our presidential election, and the corruption going on in Brazil.
Why do you think there is there such a negative public reaction to vaping? Because some powerful lobbying interests have made sure to provide the public with overwhelming amounts of negative (and in many cases false) information about vaping. These interests do not want the vaping industry to continue to grow, so they have embarked on a public marketing plan to destroy the image associated with electronic cigarettes.
So who will be financially harmed if vaping continues to become the preferred nicotine delivery system of the public? The pharmaceutical industry and the tobacco industry (I do not agree with the argument that the government will suffer because of the taxes collected on cigarettes. I believe the government will find a different product to tax to make up that shortfall; most likely vape products.)
Wait, Aren’t There Any Good People?
I do believe that there are many unbiased people in the public health industry who are genuinely worried about the possible ill effects of vaping, but that is not what is driving this legislative train. If that was the case, there would be far more legislation banning or limiting sugar than vaping throughout the United States, as sugar is far more dangerous than vaping, is known to be and is the main factor behind the obesity crisis that is killing our nation. So while I believe that many public health officials are voicing legitimate concerns, I do not believe that legitimate concerns about possible unknowns translates into restrictive laws in other areas the way they do with electronic cigarettes and e-liquids.
Here is the Depressing Part
The fact is, the issues that become hot-button legislative issues are those which have campaign contributions behind them. If you learn anything from House of Cards, it should be that. It isn’t just the lack of restriction on sugar that bolsters this understanding. We all just watched the past holiday season shopping frenzy of exploding “hoverboards” from China, where it was basically Amazon and other retailers that had to step in and set national policy on the issue. Those were clear and present dangerous products to all of us, but nobody was running into legislative sessions passing midnight bans or restrictions, because nobody was funding the outrage. Unfunded outrage is like a tree falling in the woods; if nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
This is the first in a series of articles that will examine exactly who loses if the vaping industry continues to grow unchecked. Without any governmental interference, it is apparent that vaping would become the premier means of smoking cessation (it probably already is). This definitely does not sit well with the people over at Pfizer, who make billions prescribing their dangerous and deadly drug Chantix to help people quit smoking.
You know who else is going to lose big if vaping continues on its current trajectory? The tobacco industry. Smoking is gross, and now there is an alternative! Teenagers today don’t want to smoke, they want to vape. Vaping could eradicate tobacco use entirely, if allowed to do so. But as you can see, it is not being allowed to do so. Big tobacco is already lobbying hard to limit vaping to products only they are in a position to sell.
So stay tuned, while I try my hand at investigative reporting and look into all of this bankrolled outrage, and see who is paying for what studies, and why the issue of vaping has become so politicized. Until then, Keep Calm and Vape On.
Spinfuel Columnist Julie Selesnick is the president of The Happy Vapor Company. As an attorney-turned-writer (and a big Frank Underwood fan!) Julie brings to the vape community a sharp mind, a strong sense of justice, and the willingness to fight for the rights of those that have chosen vaping to escape the deadly affects of tobacco products.