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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Conservative leaders are circulating data to White House staff that claims adults who vape will turn on President Trump if he follows through with his planned ban on flavored e-cigarettes, Axios has learned. 

Between the lines: The data (shown below) reveals that the number of adult vapers in key battleground states greatly outweighs the margins by which Trump won those states in 2016 — and they argue it could cost him reelection.

What we're hearing: "While parents may be concerned about e-cigarettes, the people who genuinely care about vaping as a voting issue so far outweighs the number of people Trump needs to win in 2020 that they are royally screwing themselves by doing this," Paul Blair, the director of strategic initiatives at Americans for Tax Reform, tells me.

  • Suburban moms concerned about vaping "don't have the same voter intensity on this as adult vapers do," an industry lobbyist said.
  • Florida, which Trump won by 113,000 voters, had about 873,000 adult vapers in 2016. They reason that if 1 in 8 vapers turn against Trump in 2020 because he foreclosed their vaping options, it could jeopardize the election.

Why it matters: If Trump backs away from proposed enforcement policy, it would be the second time in recent weeks that political concerns prompted him to dial back government regulations.

  • Trump's openness this summer to expanded background checks cooled after the gun lobby and campaign advisers warned about bad internal polling.

Our thought bubble: There are four unsubstantiated assumptions about adult vapers in the case being presented to Trump:

  1. They start out as Trump voters.
  2. They wouldn't vape anymore if they couldn't get the flavors.
  3. They are single-issue voters around vaping rights.
  4. The eventual Democratic nominee would be more vape-friendly.

Still, the math can't be totally ignored, especially in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where Trump's 2016 win margins were so narrow and the number of adult vapers is relatively high.

By the numbers: More than 4 million people in swing states regularly used e-cigarettes in 2016, according to FDA-funded survey data published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

  • Industry experts say that number has increased significantly in recent years.

Behind the scenes: The White House scheduled a listening session with conservative groups last Thursday after receiving intense backlash from GOP leaders and industry execs following the announcement of the ban.

  • Among the invitees: The Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Goldwater Institute, AFT and the Vapor Technology Association.
  • But roughly 24 hours after invitations went out, the meeting was canceled.
  • "They’re in chaos mode on this stuff because the backlash has been so resoundingly overpowering," one invitee said.
  • A White House official says the meeting is expected to be rescheduled.

The bottom line: The political pressure points regarding the ban have gotten Trump's attention.

  • Shortly after the proposed ban was announced, Trump tweeted that he still likes vaping as an alternative to cigarettes.
  • Trump's 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale also hit back at a Trump follower who tweeted that banning vaping products is "not on brand with MAGA."
  • One administration official said the tweets were prompted by a flood of criticism from conservative leaders.

Go deeper

Statue of KKK leader removed from side of Tennessee highway

Members of the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan participate in Nathan Bedford Forrest Birthday march. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, was removed Tuesday from the side of a highway in Nashville, Tennessee.

Why it matters: The move to take down the 25-foot statue comes amid renewed scrutiny of Confederate memorials. Dozens of Confederate symbols have been removed, relocated or renamed since George Floyd's death last year.

Women politicians are under siege

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Kevin Dietsch, Stefani Reynolds, and Alex Wong/Getty Images

Women in Congress feel besieged and singled-out amid surging threats against lawmakers at all levels, with some frustrated more hasn't been done to halt the trend.

Why it matters: As record numbers of American women are being elected to public office, their growing political power is being met with death and rape threats, sexist and racist abuse and online disinformation. Collectively, it's discouraged women from running for office.

New report hits DOJ over lack of police shooting data

Demonstrations followed the shooting of Dijon Kizzee by Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies in 2020. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

A new government accountability report says the Department of Justice failed to consistently publish an annual summary of police excessive force data from 2016 to 2020, as required by federal law.

Why it matters: The data is crucial for the DOJ to monitor excessive force cases, and used to investigate law enforcement agencies with patterns of abuse. The DOJ can pivot off it to pursue court action to force reforms.