In either a shocking or predictable move this week — depending on what side of the fence you are on — Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has “made his most direct threat yet against e-cigarette companies,” reports NBC News.
Gottlieb’s statement at a hearing held at FDA headquarters continued, saying that companies face an “‘existential threat’ if they don’t stop marketing to youth.” His latest threat comes after back and forth conversations with companies like Juul in recent months, who said they would do more to self regulate, which Gottlieb seemed to agree with at the time. Juul recently came out with advertisement specifically showing that vaping is for adults only.
Calling youth vaping “an epidemic” in recently months, he said last week that if youth vaping numbers continue to rise in 2019, “the entire category will face an existential threat. It will be game over for these products until they can successfully traverse the regulatory process,” which seems to lend itself to wiping out the industry altogether — something the FDA has power to do.
Flavors are one of the most hotly debated subjects, and Gottlieb has had numerous meetings with top industry manufacturers to discuss why flavors are so imperative to harm reduction from tobacco in adults, yet seemingly appeal to youth. He has sense limited sales of flavored e-cigarettes in some markets and began the process of banning menthol in combustible cigarettes.
Other damaging claims to the industry made at the hearing include:
“FDA’s recently announced regulatory actions regarding e-cigarettes do not go far enough and we urge much stronger action. Strong tobacco control policy aimed at keeping enticing products away from adolescents may be more effective in achieving adolescent cessation than medical interventions. “There is unfortunately virtually no data on how to treat an adolescent with e-cigarette dependence. As things currently stand, there is not a single randomized controlled trial that has tested strategies to help teens quit e-cigarettes, and there is a significant need for research in this area. We simply do not know yet if our traditional approach to cigarette cessation will apply to adolescent vaping cessation.” — Dr. Susanne Tanski, a pediatrician and past chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Tobacco Consortium
“FDA is asking the wrong questions. E-cigarettes are recreational products, not drugs. Let’s face it — kids think e-cigarettes are cool and they use them as recreational products. FDA should fulfill its legal mandate and immediately pull from the market all e-cigarettes that have not been pre-approved. They should prohibit all internet sales of e-cigarettes. Age verification schemes do not work, and teens find ways to buy vapes online. — Lauren Lempert, a researcher at the University of California San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Research and Education.
“There is no evidence that adults need these flavors to quit smoking. We need to stop saying that e-cigarettes are safe or safer and prevent e-cigarette companies from making these unauthorized risk claims. We need to stop saying that e-cigarettes help adults stop smoking when there not clear evidence that this is the case.” — Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, Stanford Children’s Health
“I feel like we're living in the past. The e-cigarette companies are taking plays out of the cigarette companies’ playbook. You see it with their advertising. You see it with the appealing to kids, flavors, everything. It is incredibly frustrating to see.” — Anne DiGiulio of the American Lung Association
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