- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Who says politics is boring? A D.C. conservative think tank with a stake in the feds’ push to regulate e-cigarettes has stumbled on a creative way to get its message out, thanks to President Obama’s gum-chewing gaffe in China.

“We’re getting together a variety of e-cigarettes to send Obama, to give him some choices,” said Jeff Stier, senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, in a brief telephone call.

His announcement comes on the heels of Mr. Obama’s widely reported gum-chewing incidents at the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation summit in China, which drew fire from several native observers who found his actions uncouth. One, for example, wrote of seeing Obama “stepping out of his car chewing gum like an idler,” USA Today reported.

But Mr. Stier’s group thinks it’s found a way to defuse the public relations tensions — with a humorous mailing that nonetheless carries a message.

Had Obama taken along a couple of e-cigs with him, he wouldn’t have felt the need to chomp on nicotine gum, thus he wouldn’t have offended his Chinese hosts in the process.

“Had he been vaping, he could have satisfied his nicotine craving … without offending,” he said. “The NCPPR is sending a variety or e-cigarettes to the president, when he returns from China.”

The organization has been pushing for the Food and Drug Administration to back off regulations of e-cigarettes, saying an over-regulated approach will actually prevent tobacco smokers from quitting and using the vapor product as a substitute.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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