In an article published last week on Forbes, co-authors Sally Patel and Director of Counterfactual Consulting (UK) Clive Bates, pointed out that the Senators urged Gottlieb to “stand up to special interests” and oppose the recent three month reprieve that the FDA recently launched in favour of the vaping industry.
“We encourage you to prioritize efforts to prevent tobacco-related disease and keep tobacco products out of the hands of children,” wrote the senators, clearly predicting the pressures that the commissioner will be facing from different angles.
The article authors doubt whether the Senators’ letter will influence Gottlieb’s decisions in any way, however, they point out that it is important in representing the misled opinions of a large portion of congress and the country at large.
Gottlieb’s perceived stance about vaping
The infamous deeming rule that was implemented last year in 2016, pre Gottlieb, has been threatening the existence of the vaping industry, forcing many small vaping shops out of business.
“These burdens would devastate the e-cigarette market and crush hundreds of decent small businesses – as many as 99% would exit. It would harm consumers using e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking and protect the cigarette trade from competition. Even worse, the chilling effect on innovation would keep smokers inhaling lethal tar,” said the authors about the FDA’s harsh regulations.
Many have been speculating that Gottlieb will be more reasonable than the previous leadership, and suspect that the reason behind the three month reprieve was gaining time in planning a new way forward. In an article written for Forbes back in 2013, (pre deeming rule), he seemed to approach the topic of vaping regulations in a neutral and rational manner.
“FDA was to create a path to enable cigarette makers to transition away from smoked tobacco and win government approval of consumable products that used tobacco but presumably harboured less, and perhaps even none of the health risks posed by smoking. When this quid pro quo was pushed through Congress, the industry’s critics and allies each positioned it as a win-win. But it was dependent on FDA being able to establish – and maintain – a regulatory path that let tobacco get approval for new products that posed a “reduced harm” over traditional smoked cigarettes.” wrote Gottlieb four years ago.
Unsubstantiated claims about a “Gateway Effect” keep circulating
One of the major accusations against the vaping industry is the production of e-liquid flavours that entice teens to vape, and hence hook another generation on nicotine, the infamous ‘Gateway Theory‘. Studies have shown that these fears are unsubstantiated. Despite this, the senators stated that this pause for reconsideration will have “dangerous consequences ”for the minors“ deliberately targeted” by an industry that entices them with flavors such as “cookies and cream” and “cotton candy.”
“The senators, to their credit, give credence to the possibility of a harm reduction benefit – the idea that nicotine can be delivered to smokers in a safer way. Their mistake is in believing that the FDA’s current deeming rules are the way to realize it.” concluded Satel and Bates.