Last week the Trump Administration took a step forward in tackling a major public health crisis that is predominantly affecting young people. Instead of tackling addiction or gun violence, the president took on another toxic orange substance, Mango Juul pods.
The Coast Report Editorial Board applauds his efforts as vaping is a health crisis we are only beginning to understand. However, we wonder why the American people aren’t seeing an issue that is killing far greater numbers — gun violence.
In 2017, almost 40,000 Americans died as a result of gun violence. To put it into perspective, about 60,000 American soldiers died over the course of the Vietnam War.
Joseph Stalin said, “one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic.” When compared with 40,000, the six reported deaths from vaping seems like a drop in the bucket.
Maybe the deaths of six people are easier to wrap our brains around. Six people can still be individuals, 40,000 people are just a number.
This isn’t to say that the six deaths from vaping are inconsequential. The long-term effects of vaping have not yet been studied and the full consequences have yet to come to light, but the results are already alarming.
Once touted as an aid to quit smoking, instead vaping is becoming more prevalent among non-smokers with some users starting as young as middle school.
Studies have shown that the use of nicotine at a young age can predispose a developing brain to addiction to other chemicals, like opiates, later on in life.
While the consequences of vaping are still unknown, the effects of gun violence are immediate and obvious.
Americans used to feel safe in schools, in movie theaters, in Walmart. But the specter of gun violence has stripped away.
Along with the conversation surrounding gun violence comes a discussion of the influence of the National Rifle Association on elected officials.
The NRA donated more than $30 million to the Trump campaign in the run up to the 2016 election. For years the NRA’s influence on politics has seemed to be too big of a Goliath to be beat, yet the same was once said of the tobacco lobby.
In 1990, the political contributions of the tobacco lobby totaled upwards of $70 million while in 2017, they only donated $21.8 million. The declining influence of the tobacco lobby is proof positive that these powerful interest groups can be diminished when public outcry results in repeated litigation.
This proposed ban on flavored vaping products is a great start, but can’t we also do something about guns? Please.