Scott Gottlieb, the current Commissioner of the Federal Drug Administration, is resigning in under a month. Commissioner Gottlieb has had a history of aggressive enforcement actions while in his post, namely his fight against youth vaping. With his impending resignation, here is a review of his term.
Gottlieb on Youth Vaping
The "Youth Vaping Epidemic". Commissioner Gottlieb championed prevention of youth access to vaping and smoking cigarettes throughout his term. Drawing from data collected in the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey and faced with the growing popularity of Juul among teens, Gottlieb proposed new steps to combat what he stated was an “epidemic” of youth use.
Nation Wide Blitz. FDA redoubled their efforts to prevent youth access and initiation of nicotine, conducting a large-scale undercover nationwide blitz to crack down on retailers who allowed sales to minors and manufacturers whose products or marketing practices were deemed as "kid-appealing."
Proposed Flavor Regulation. As part of his policy framework, Gottlieb also proposed that the sale of all flavored vaping products (other than tobacco, mint and menthol flavors or non-flavored products) be sold in age-restricted, in-person locations and, if sold online, under heightened practices for age verification. He led the agency in efforts to forcefully address youth use trends, including the investigation of marketing and sales practices, as well as boots on the ground inspection of several online retailers as well as brick and mortar stores.
Gottlieb’s Reason For Leaving
Leaving for Family. According to the official who spoke with the Washington Post, Gottlieb’s reasons for leaving are to spend time with his family and his weariness in commuting from his home in Connecticut to Washington, D.C.
Increased Pressure. As reported by the New York Times, Dr. Gottlieb has been subject to increased pressure from the current administration’s Republican party for his tough stance against youth vaping and traditional cigarettes. (New York Times, March 2019). Could this pressure also have been a factor for his resignation?
Fear & Hope Throughout His Term
His stance against youth vaping has impacted the vaping industry as a whole. There have been several moments of legitimate fear in the vaping industry, along with moments of hope.
Moments of Fear. These moments of fear include his proposal of outright bans of online sales, mentions of restricting flavors, and going after convenience stores sales of vaping products.
Moments of hope include his extension for retailers and manufacturers to receive marketing authorization from 2018 to 2022.
During his term, Gottlieb sought to strike a balance between restricting youth access while acknowledging that vaping products could present an “important opportunity for adult smokers to transition off combustible tobacco products.” His approach to regulation drew criticism from both vaping advocates (who saw his policies as overly restrictive) and public health advocates (who saw his policies as not stringent enough). However, his efforts as Commissioner prove that he is passionate about preventing youth access to vaping and smoking, a principle that ought to be followed and supported by any retailer.
Dr. Gottlieb’s Successor
Gottlieb’s resignation has caught many people in the vaping industry by surprise, and it raises questions about whether the FDA will continue to create and enforce policies consistent with those announced under Gottlieb.
Future Successor. Though a successor has not been named, there are real concerns for their view on the vaping industry. Will they be as tough or tougher than Commissioner Gottlieb? Will their stance be more favorable to traditional tobacco? Will there be flavor restrictions in the FDA’s agenda, as suggested by Dr. Gottlieb?
These are questions that may not be answered for some time - confirmation of the next FDA Commissioner may not begin until Dr. Gottlieb steps down from his post. One can hope the next Commissioner agrees that the vaping industry needs the following: prevention of youth vaping, the championing of fair regulations for businesses to succeed in a growing and vibrant industry, and recognition of vaping’s potential to provide an alternative for adult smokers.
What do you hope for in a new Commissioner? Share your thoughts in our VapeWild e-juice group on Facebook!
Posted by Gabriel on Mar 14th 2019