Hours after President Donald Trump announced that his administration will consider a ban on flavored e-cigarettes due to their popularity with teens and children, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith took a vaping lobbyist to task, grilling him on the safety of vaping and whether the industry specifically marketed to children.
During a Wednesday interview on Fox News’ Shepard Smith Reporting, the Fox anchor immediately asked Vapor Technology Association executive director Tony Abboud whether vaping was safe.
“We know from scientists that vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes,” Abboud replied, prompting Smith to quickly push back.
“No, it isn’t,” the Fox News host stated. “Actually that’s not true. Because I have a Google machine and access to the research.” Smith then went on to read from a study that shows that vaping has a “negative impact on air quality” and there are “no long term studies to back up claims” that vapor is less harmful than conventional cigarette smoke.
After Abboud objected, insisting that the American Cancer Association says vaping is on a lower risk spectrum than cigarettes, Smith noted that the American Lung Association finds that “e-cigarettes are not safe and can cause irreversible lung damage and lung disease.”
Smith continued to pepper the lobbyist with questions on the dangers of vaping, asking him if vaping can cause cancer. When Abboud said it is still unclear, Smith read from studies that show e-cigarettes contain cancer-causing substances before questioning whether the vaping industry is being dishonest with its consumers.
“You are looking at individual studies,” Abboud retorted, prompting Smith to utter: “Oh, dear.”
From there, Smith repeatedly pressed the vaping advocate on whether or not the industry marketed flavored e-cigs to kids. After Abboud said some vapes had been “marketed in inappropriate ways” in the past, Smith demanded a direct yes or no answer.
“I asked, were they marketing to children, yes or no?” Smith declared.
“I think, Shep, I said yes, in the past that was in fact happening,” Abboud replied. “That’s why we came out with marketing standards for the industry in 2017 and hand-delivered them to Commissioner Gottlieb in January of 2018 and implored him to enforce on marketing standards even more. And then we told our industry this is what you need to do.”
Smith, however, wasn’t satisfied with this answer and specifically asked the lobbyist: “Weren’t the flavors marketed to kids? Were they or not? Flavors, bubblegum, the rest. Even mint. Weren’t they for kids?”
Abboud, however, confusingly said “that’s not what the science says,” causing Smith to clarify that he’s talking about all the fruity and sweet flavors and whether they were marketing to kids who never smoked before rather than to adults who were trying to quit smoking.
“The answer to that is you’re marketing to adults, there’s no question about that,” Abboud responded.
“There is a question about it, with respect,” Smith snapped back. “There is a great question about it. The problem is with children.”
He continued: “We have a whole generation of kids who realized smoking is nasty and I’m not going to do it and now they are running around in schools all over the country in bathrooms where the teachers can’t catch them, they are getting addicted to nicotine. Do you have a problem being in an industry that addicts children to nicotine?”
Smith would go on and grill Abboud for a while longer, eventually telling the lobbyist that it is “unfortunate” that his industry has addicted millions of kids to nicotine.