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FDA Commissioner Resigns; Vaping Industry Reacts

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The vaping industry again has its ears perked in dramatic fashion, this time due to yesterday’s surprising news of Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s resignation. In approximately one month, Gottlieb will voluntarily be out the door of the job he has held for somewhat of a short period of time — since 2017.

Gottlieb’s tenure, especially in terms of the vaping industry, started out promising, but the past couple of years have been met with Gottlieb’s attempt to ban flavors after citing youth vaping as an “epidemic.”

Tuesday’s resignation also came with an interview between 46-year-old Gottlieb and The Washington Post, which he told, “It was a very hard decision.” He said that he wants to spend more time with his family, and also shared that he spoke with President Donald Trump prior to his resignation. “This is the best job I will ever have. I’m leaving because I need to spend time with my family. I get home late Friday, work on weekends and come back to Washington on Sunday. I did the job 100 percent,” he told The Washington Post. Two officials told the news organization that Gottlieb is well-respected and “could even be asked to take another post." Gottlieb declined to comment on that possibility.

Gottlieb’s crusade against vaping companies who allegedly market to children is currently under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget, and it’s too early to tell who may take over the helm, continuing where Gottlieb is leaving off. November’s attempt to limit flavor sales to age-restricted stores is pending, as well as a potential ban on online sales.

Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a recent interview with The Washington Post called the commissioner’s record on tobacco “complex and incomplete.” He told The Post that “Gottlieb deserved credit for ‘shining a spotlight’ on the rise of youth e-cigarette use and for aggressive enforcement actions against vaping companies that marketed to minors. But he said that Gottlieb’s decision in 2017 to delay the e-cigarette regulation itself contributed to the rise of youth vaping.”

Additionally, Paul Blair, director of strategic initiatives at the Americans for Tax Reform, told Cyclops Vapor after hearing of the resignation: "FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb was the only Trump appointee acting in a way that was inconsistent with the President's deregulatory objectives. He needed to go. But, his tenure isn't over yet and he may well still issue guidance that further restricts the ability of companies to sell products in convenience stores or big box retailers. Whoever comes next needs will likely be influenced by Gottlieb's time at FDA and that's concerning. For now, we can celebrate his departure and hope that his replacement takes a more balanced approach to tobacco harm reduction moving forward."