Beware of Dr. Neptune: Dr. Siegel blasts vaping hater with cartoonish name

Dr. Neptune is not some fictional evil villain from the DC comic books.  She is a real, live, breathing, three-dimensional human with a long list of medical credentials.   She is an associate professor at Johns Hopkins, and the Vice Chairperson of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Tobacco Action Committee.

She is also a vaping hater.

In a letter written to the Washington Post and published last week on August 9, Dr. Neptune complained about the newspaper’s editorial of the previous week.  In the August 4 article, The Post allegedly praises the decision of FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb to postpone implementation of portions of the deeming regulations until 2022.  The article also seems to favor the new FDA strategy to regulate the nicotine levels for combustible cigarettes.

Of course, vaping haters like Dr. Neptune do not agree.

For vaping haters like Dr. Neptune, all forms of nicotine are pure evil. And for vaping haters like Dr. Neptune, all forms of nicotine consumption are just as deadly as the next.

“So the FDA is proposing to lower nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes to minimally addictive or nonaddictive levels. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb explained that allowing nicotine levels to remain the same in gums, patches and e-cigarettes will encourage smokers to move toward ‘products capable of delivering nicotine without having to set tobacco on fire,’ which is by far the riskiest way to obtain the drug. There is a risk that addicts would simply take deeper puffs or hold smoke in their lungs longer, seeking to maximize their nicotine hit."


Oh, good grief!  First of all, how can anyone take someone named Dr. Neptune seriously.  Secondly, this medical professional actually sounds on the verge of hysteria.  Later, she goes on to say the following.

“The commissioner seems unconcerned about switching one form of nicotine addiction with another…. The FDA’s job is to protect youths from all types of tobacco and nicotine addiction, not to negotiate which types of nicotine addiction it will allow."

Dr. Neptune seems to be missing the bigger picture here.  The FDA – nor any other public health agency – has the capabilities or the resources to wipe out any sort of “addiction” entirely, including addictions to tobacco and nicotine.  She also fails to realize that it’s the combustible tobacco and thousands of toxins inside conventional cigarettes that kills you.  It’s not the nicotine.  If nicotine were as deadly as she implies, then tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant would also be regulated out of existence by the FDA.

Dr. Siegel weighs in on the Dr. Neptune philosophy

The real issue that Gottlieb is trying to address is the issue of tobacco harm reduction.  “Reduction” is the key word here.   Dr. Michael Seigel is a Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, and in his blog the following week, he takes aim at Dr. Neptune. 

“While this writer speaks only for the American Thoracic Society, it is clear to me that this is indeed the underlying philosophy of all the major anti-tobacco groups, and even of many health departments and agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health departments in California, Vermont, and Washington (to name a few).”

“Fortunately, Commissioner Gottlieb has rejected this philosophy, strongly and definitively. Public health is about saving lives, not fighting for some ideological principle of no addiction to any substance, regardless of how low-risk the product might be or how the product might be saving a life by switching someone to a much safer form of drug delivery.”

Siegel also goes on to note that the need to restrict access to vaping products by America’s youth is a no-brainer.  Even most vape shop owners will agree.  And the vaping industry has been successfully self-regulating in this regard for a very long time now.

But Dr. Mike also points out that discouraging teen vaping “should not come at the expense of wiping out 99% of the e-cigarette market.”  After all, any product that helps millions of people quit smoking tobacco and toxin-filled cigarettes can’t be all bad.  But if you listen to vaping haters like Dr. Neptune, e-cigs and traditional cigarettes are essentially one-in-the-same.

Perhaps it’s time to give vaping advocates like Dr. Siegel a bright red crime-fighting cape, because vaping haters like Dr. Neptune must be stopped at all costs. 


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