Since winning his congressional seat in 2016, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) has been a staunch anti-vaping advocate. He has either sponsored or supported legislation to more aggressively regulate the sales of vaping products, including the recent vape mail ban law suspiciously buried deep inside the recent COVID-19 relief package.
Gottheimer seems to have also aligned himself with a clever coalition of political colleagues who are accepting campaign contributions from Fortune 500 companies in the tobacco sector while also owning stocks in various Big Tobacco conglomerates. According to Federal Election Commission records. Gottheimer has received $10,500 in campaign donations from AltriaPAC, a Political Action Committee (PAC) supporting The Altria Group, one of the biggest manufacturers of combustible tobacco cigarettes on the planet.
Vaping vs. Big Tobacco: Rep. Gottheimer’s conflict of interest
Furthermore, the New Jersey lawmaker is reported to have received thousands of dollars in financial dividends from tobacco stocks , including Phillip Morris, in 2019 alone. This information comes from financial disclosures that members of congress are legally obligated to report periodically. Rollcall puts it this way:
“Gottheimer earned between $200 and $1,000 in dividends from his $1,000 to $15,000 financial interest in Altria. He also earned between $200 and $1,000 in dividends from his $1,000 to $15,000 holding in Philip Morris International, a tobacco company that sells IQOS VEEV, an e-cigarette.”
Unfortunately, there is nothing illegal about congresspersons owning stocks in tobacco or any other types of companies. And Gottheimer is certainly not the only politician facing accusations of insider trading. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are just a few recent examples. But Gottheimer’s activities and apparent conflicts of interest are particularly troubling – especially for the American vaping industry.
The grossly misreported EVALI scandal of late 2019 has done irreparable harm to the industry nationwide, with many once-loyal smokers-turned-vapers returning to smoking in huge numbers after wrongly believing the mainstream media’s EVALI fearmongering.
EVALI, as a refresher, was first misreported as a “vaping related” lung disorder largely affecting young people. As of February 4, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported only 2,758 cases of EVALI nationwide. And even though the CDC would eventually acknowledge that contraband or black-market THC-enhanced cartridges illegally laced with vitamin E acetate were to blame for the potentially lethal disorder, the severe damage to the reputation of the vaping industry remains.
Vapers may contact Rep. Josh Gottheimer through his official government website via email. Or they can contact the congressman through his Washington, DC office located at 203 Cannon HOB, Washington, DC, 20515, Phone: (202) 225-4465.
(Image courtesy of YouTube)