A leading vaping group is urging Republican and Democratic candidates for president to promote e-cigarettes in upcoming debates.
The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association sent a letter to each candidate following the GOP debate on Tuesday evening "suggesting they consider advocating the use of vapor products as alternatives to combustible tobacco."
"Many misinformed, though presumably well-meaning opponents, want to lump vapor products in with tobacco," said SFATA president Cynthia Cabrera. "Americans may never realize the full economic and public health benefits from vapor products if they continue to be confused with smoking. It is vital that voters have a clear understanding of the stark differences between vapor products and combustible cigarettes."
Democrats have insisted that e-cigarettes are a "gateway" to smoking real cigarettes, though vaping remains a popular quitting method for smokers.
SFATA pointed to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found nearly one in four ex-smokers use e-cigarettes, and only 0.4 percent of nonsmokers use vaping devices.
The group said they are seeking one-on-one meetings with presidential candidates, arguing that vaping is as important as immigration or the economy.
The Food and Drug Administration is currently weighing regulations that could "ban 95 percent of all vapor products on the market today," SFATA said.
"As key issues such as government, the economy and immigration are debated during the 2016 presidential race, we believe vapor products have a critical role in America’s future and should be included in the national discussion, either in the debates or on campaign trails," Cabrera said.