Trump during a White House session on youth vaping in November 2019. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The lobbying group Vapor Technology Association is targeting President Trump with a six-figure ad buy in Palm Beach County, Fla., opposing a national ban on flavored e-cigarettes, a VTA spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: As Trump weighs whether to move forward with a proposed ban designed to curb youth vaping, 54 people have died from lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use in 27 states and the District of Columbia as of Dec. 19, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • There are 2,506 confirmed hospital cases of the lung injury in all 50 states, Washington and two U.S. territories, as of Dec. 17.
  • While illicit THC vaping products are strongly linked to the vaping illnesses, per CDC, the agency has not ruled out nicotine products.

Driving the news: The ad depicts two voters, one identified as a Trump supporter, arguing that flavored vapor products helped them quit smoking. Banning flavored e-cigarettes will result in vapers withdrawing their support for Trump, costing him the 2020 election, the voters in the ad say.

  • It will air Sunday on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC in Palm Beach County, Fla., per the VTA's press release. The president is spending the holidays at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.
  • The ad cites a 2016 Royal College of Physicians report to claim that vaping is "95% safer" than smoking.
    • "Although unknown, the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from tobacco smoke," the report states.
  • Depicting e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to cigarettes is an effective marketing strategy for consumers, the report also states.

Flashback: Conservative leaders circulated data to the White House last fall showing 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.

  • VTA ran its first ad in October.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Alayna Treene: 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.

Go deeper: GOP allies warn vaping ban will sink Trump in 2020

Editor's note: This story clarifies that while illicit THC vaping products are strongly linked to the vaping illnesses, the CDC has not ruled out not ruled out nicotine products.

Go deeper

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt tests positive for coronavirus

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced on Wednesday he has tested positive for the coronavirus and will self-isolate, Tulsa World reports.

Why it matters: The 47-year-old Stitt is believed to be the first governor in the U.S. to test positive. He attended President Trump's rally in Tulsa last month, which the county's health department director said likely contributed to a surge in cases in the region.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 3,432,307 — Total deaths: 136,493 — Total recoveries: 1,049,098 — Total tested: 41,764,557Map.
  3. Public health: Florida's outbreak is getting worse — Testing is again overwhelmed by massive U.S. caseload.
  4. Business: UnitedHealth posts most profitable quarter in its history — Walmart will require all customers to wear masks.
  5. Politics: White House says it didn't clear Navarro op-ed that attacked Fauci.

Walmart will require all customers to wear masks

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Walmart will require all customers to wear face masks beginning next week in all of its 9,000 company-owned stores, in addition to its Sam's Club locations, the company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Walmart is the largest retailer in the U.S. and the latest in a string of national chains — including Costco and Starbucks — to mandate masks for customers.