FDA Commissioner Set To Resign, Leaving Future Of Vaping In Limbo

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Dr. Scott Gottlieb is leaving his post next month for personal reasons, leaving a ton of question marks for vapers across the country.

In the nearly two years that Dr. Scott Gottlieb has been Commissioner of the FDA, he’s been both a hero and a devil to the vaping industry. One of his first moves after taking office was to delay the controversial deeming rules until 2022, giving the industry more time to meet the new high standards. At the time many thought this was a sign of things to come, but ever since the rise in teenage vaping has majorly overshadowed the value of e-cigarettes. This has moved their focus toward an e-liquid flavor ban, which was just handed over to the White House last week after months of planning. But right as this massive shoe is about to drop for the vaping industry in America, we got news yesterday that Dr. Scott Gottlieb will be stepping down from his post early next month.

This move couldn’t have come at a more hectic time for the vaping industry. Between the crippling flavor ban knocking on the door and continued mistrust and bias from legislators, a new FDA Commissioner could be the straw that broke the camel’s back if the wrong person ends up with the job. One thing is for sure in such a tumultuous time; only time will tell if this change in administration has a positive or negative impact on the vaping industry.

Stepping Down

In a letter to his staff at the FDA yesterday, Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced that he would be resigning, effective starting next month. According to reports, the move has been in talks for months now, with Dr. Gottlieb only commuting to D.C. during the week and spending weekends with his family in Connecticut. He says the only reason for him leaving his post is to spend more time with his family, saying that’s the only thing that could pull him away from his highly important job. His direct superior, head of the Department of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and the President himself both gave their thanks to the Commissioner over Twitter and wished him well on future endeavors. His departure leaves a massive question mark for the entire vaping industry, who is currently in a major battle over e-liquid flavors.

Who President Trump taps for the next head of the FDA will have far-reaching consequences for the vaping industry. If the next Commissioner understands the full harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaping, there’s a solid chance we could see the controversial flavor ban repealed, if it’s ever even implemented. Countries such as the UK have taken this route, incorporating vaping into their smoking cessation programs, and been able to reach their lowest-ever smoking rates. However, if the next Commissioner takes a similar, or even more harsh stance on vaping as Dr. Gottlieb, we could see much worse regulation than just a simple flavor ban in brick and mortar stores. Some in the vaping community even fear an outright ban could be on the horizon.

The Evidence For Vaping

While the primary argument made by the FDA and others against acceptance of vaping is centered around their impact on the youth, we have plenty of independent research which proves this is “epidemic” is exaggerated. Instead of a generation of non-smoking teens ending up smokers because of vaping, a report of over 60,000 students concluded only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever even picking up vapes on a regular basis, let alone cigarettes. We also have evidence which suggests vaping is not only a useful smoking cessation tool but actually the best available. A report conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville tested all the most common methods and aids used to quit and found vaping to outperform even prescription drugs.

But the positive information doesn’t stop there. In fact, we have more evidence for the extreme harm reduction value of vaping than almost anything else. Back in 2015, we got a report from Public Health England which concluded vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. At the time this was a shocking figure, but these days we get this type of result all the time. Just a few months back we got a report which found vapor has 93% fewer toxicants than cigarette smoke. But the most compelling evidence we have for the harm reduction value is easily the report which found the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is around 57,000 times lower than a demographically similar smoker.

Implications

At the beginning of the year, many experts called 2019 a “make or break” year for the vaping industry in America. While this has undoubtedly been true so far, I doubt many had any idea the FDA commissioner would step down and create an even more hectic situation. Whoever President Trump chooses to be the next head of the FDA will likely be the most significant factor in how the industry looks a year from today. With the right leader, we could follow in the footsteps of the UK and provide smokers around the country with a proven effective way to reduce their harm and help them quit smoking. However, if they go down the same path Dr. Gottlieb, it could mean much worse than just a flavor ban.

Are you surprised Commissioner Gottlieb is leaving his post? Do you think this will be a positive or negative change for the vaping industry? What’s the best way to spread positive information to those around us? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.

Dustin has been vaping for almost a decade. He found e-cigarettes in 2008 and quickly became drawn to them as an early adopter. He's been writing reviews ever since and has established himself as a well-versed authority on the subject.

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