Former FDA Chief Gottlieb: Any vape ban should ‘carve around the vape shops’

Dr. Scott Gottlieb was President Trump’s first choice to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) immediately following the January 2017 inauguration. He is also the man who many claim initiated the public hysteria surrounding e-cigarettes by claiming that the United States is in the midst of a teen vaping epidemic.  Once considered Enemy #1 of the American vapor community, Gottlieb has recently been making public statements largely in opposition to a universal ban on flavored e-liquids. 

Last week, President Trump held a meeting at the White House with advocacy groups of the vape community, anti-vaping organizations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, medical activists’ groups, convenience store organizations, and major retailers like JUUL and NJOY.  Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway were also in attendance.  With so many diverging opinions being offered throughout the long debate, the Trump-led meeting grew understandably heated on many occasions. 

On CNBC, Gottlieb says pod systems like JUUL are the real threat to teen vaping

As news of the meeting began to leak that Mr. Trump appears even more reluctant to force a federal flavor ban on the American People, pundits on both sides of the debate immediately took to the airwaves.  Most supporters of the ban are still wrongly conflating flavored nicotine-based vapes with the Black Market THC-containing cartridges that are causing the “vaping-related” deaths across the country.

Related Article: Still unconvinced of vape bans. Trump says Black Market ‘poison’ is chief concern

In an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb attempted to navigate between fact and fiction.  According to Gottlieb, adult-only vapes shops should be spared any federal vaping bans because these retailers typically sell “big contraptions” that do not appeal to kids.  Pod-based e-cigarettes are an entirely different issue because they are easy to conceal, which is why kids love them.

“The concern is the vape shops, which is where the concern is resting right now, and the idea that if you put in a universal flavor ban, you’ll basically shut down these adult-only vape shops.  I think there’s a way to carve around the vape shops and still achieve a lot from a public health standpoint.  And you can even make a public health argument why you might exempt the vape shops for the time being.”

Gottlieb continues by saying that age-restricted venues should be allowed to sell flavored vapor products that are not mass-produced, cheap and disposable.  He continues to sing the praises of open-tank vaporizers as an effective way for adult smokers to transition from combustible tobacco products.  Yet he consistently and specifically demonizes closed-system e-cigs like JUUL, VUSE, and NJOY as being too kid-friendly.

“What you need to go after is these mass-produced products that are cheap, disposable, very sleek and attractive that kids are buying in gas stations and convenience stores, because that’s what the kids are abusing.  It’s typically not these open-tank, big contraptions sold in the adult vape shops that the kids are using because those things are hard to conceal, they produce large plumes of vapor, and the kids don’t like them.” 

Gottlieb is asked about the still increasing numbers of underage vapers even after months of public warnings surrounding the ideology that vaping kills kids.  The former FDA Chief responds by pointing the finger directly at JUUL Labs and their kid-appealing advertising methods which are still going unchecked even today.

Related Article:  Ex-FDA Chief Gottlieb: JUUL is the problem, not adult vape shops

“[I]t’s gotten worse.  And JUUL actually increased their market share among kids over a course of time when everyone was objectifying them and pointing out that kids were abusing their products.  So, it’s quite extraordinary.  I think that there’s a away to target the portion of the market of the products that the kids are using, and you could consider taking the cartridge-based products, these disposable products, off of the market entirely pending successful applications with the FDA where they need to prove they meet a net public health benefit.”

Gottlieb then goes on to say that these cartridge-based products, JUUL in particular, would likely never gain FDA approval because their public health risks to teenagers far outweigh any potential positive benefits for adults.  He also references the United Kingdom’s success with electronic cigarettes as an endorsed method of tobacco harm reduction.  In the UK, Gottlieb continues, close-tank systems are not nearly as readily available to the British consumer as they are in the United States.  The nicotine content of e-liquids is also much lower in Europe, too.

Related Article:  White House official: FDA regulation of tobacco & vaping is ‘huge waste of time’

(Image courtesy of CNBC's Squawk Box)

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