FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb is leaving the FDA. CNN, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and others are reporting that the commissioner made his decision based on wanting to spend more time with his family. Dr. Gottlieb lives in Connecticut and made a weekly commute away from his family to work at the FDA offices in Washington, DC. While in office, Gottlieb’s areas of focus were the opioid epidemic and preventing teen vaping. Part of his plan to limit teen vaping was potentially limiting vape flavors.
Donald Trump Tweeted “Scott has helped us to lower drug prices, get a record number of generic drugs approved and onto the market, and so many other things. He and his talents will be greatly missed!” Dr. Gottlieb was popular with the administration and respected on both sides of the aisle. As far as the vaping community was concerned, Gottlieb was a mixed bag. He was open to vapor products and allowed them to stay on the market. Conversely, he was concerned about the availability of e-liquid flavors.
Gottlieb On Smoking and Vaping
Gottlieb determined that the main culprit behind tobacco harm is nicotine. As a result, he moved the FDA toward adopting a position of regulating nicotine levels in tobacco products. Moreover, to use low quantity nicotine products as a means of reducing tobacco addiction.
The commissioner was open to the possibility of vapor products being a part of a reduced risk product strategy to combat smoking. In addition to electronic cigarettes, the FDA was testing the potential of heat not burn tobacco products. Heat not burn is basically the same as a dry herb vaporizer. The tobacco is heated to the point where the ingredients, the nicotine, is vaporized.
While Gottlieb guided the FDA to explore the possibility of vapor devices to be a valuable tool in the fight against tobacco harm, the commissioner was adversarial toward e-liquid flavors. The vaping community has been concerned that the FDA might limit adult to menthol and tobacco e-liquid flavors. It remains to be seen whether or not a new commissioner will be more accepting of allowing adults to have the option of their favorite flavors for vaping.
It will be up to a new FDA commissioner to determine the next direction the FDA takes toward vaping. No successor has been named as of yet. There is also a possibility that Gottlieb will recommend a successor to carry on his agenda. The vapor industry is hoping that a new commissioner will be open to allowing adult tobacco consumers to have the option of flavored vapor products.