Commissioner and others sign FDA blog post that outlines why the creation of a “Nicotine Steering Committee” is so vital in the fight against tobacco
Under new Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA has already changed its course on e-cigarettes quite a bit. This has been a welcome change for vapers, who had gotten used to the FDA feeling like one of the most prominent anti-vaping groups in the world. It appears that they have come all the way back from the dark side, as their latest move promises to give e-cigarettes and other non-traditional nicotine replacement therapies a fair chance to become sanctioned.
In July, Dr. Gottlieb improved the outlook of both shop owners and manufacturers alike by delaying the controversial deeming rules until 2022. He wasn’t done there, announcing shortly after that nicotine would be at the center of his administration’s goals. But unlike most government officials that use nicotine as a focal point, Dr. Gottlieb understands that it’s not the nicotine that kills millions of people every year, but instead all of the known carcinogens also in tobacco smoke.
While defending his decision to show support for vaping, he discussed a “continuum of risk” in which traditional cigarettes were at the most dangerous end and e-cigarettes, while not being harmless, were all the way on the other side. He added, “The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes — the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users.”
Nicotine Steering Committee
In order to further the administration’s goals, Dr. Gottlieb, along with Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Director Janet Woodcock and Center for Tobacco Products Director Mitchell Zeller, signed a post that announced the creation of a new committee. Called the Nicotine Steering Committee, it aims to help individuals struggling with nicotine addiction quit smoking for good, according to the FDA’s post. Specifically, they will look into improving currently sanctioned nicotine replacement therapies, as well as debating whether or not vaping should be added to the list of supported smoking cessation tools.
To do this, they’ll discuss the pros and cons of different methods of evaluation. Including which type of studies should be required, as well as how many begin to constitute proof. According to the post, everything from new labeling requirements to entirely new methods of delivering nicotine is on the table and will be discussed by the committee. They’ve even already announced a date (Jan. 26) for a public hearing, where the public will be given the opportunity to voice their opinions on this hotly contested issue.
The news was met with the expected cheers from vaping advocates across the country, but support also came from unlikely places, such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The President of the youth-focused anti-smoking organization said that moves like this could make a monumental difference. While he did make sure to mention that vaping should be regulated enough to prevent children from gaining easy access, he made it very clear that they see e-cigarettes as an essential tool in the fight against tobacco.
According to the CDC, around 70% of American smokers would like to quit. With such a large number of smokers feeling this way, it’s no surprise that most of them try at least once a year to make the change. There are plenty of methods available for smokers, but most of them can have mixed results from person to person. Vaping has emerged in recent years as a strong candidate for the most successful smoking cessation tool, with several polls finding that around half of daily vapers quit smoking altogether.
Just last week a study was published by researchers at the University of Louisville that indicated e-cigarettes were more likely to help a smoker quit than any other method commonly used. This included not only “cold turkey,” but also nicotine patches/gum, and even prescription drugs, such as Chantix. One possible reason for their apparent successes was proposed recently by the British Psychological Society. In their updated guidelines regarding vaping, they stated that understanding psychological cues, such as seeing a cloud and bringing your hand to your face, may be one of the most significant pieces of the puzzle.
When the FDA Commissioner decided to delay the deeming rules in July, it was still unclear if he was truly a friend of vaping. But after months of showing he understands the real risks of cigarettes, not just the politically easy ones, it’s getting easier to trust Dr. Gottlieb. He appears willing to give vaping a fair chance to prove that it’s an invaluable tool against smoking. By creating this committee, and allowing the public to have input, there’s a real chance that the conventional understanding of vaping will shift.
It won’t happen all at once, but if we can start by changing the minds of those in power, it will become immensely easier to change the public perception. Currently, it’s a major uphill battle, with most official positions essentially equating vaping with smoking. But the fact is that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, and by focusing on the dangers of vaping instead of their relative safety, we’re only legitimizing a false and potentially deadly mindset; That attempting the switch is ultimately meaningless.
Are you happy with the FDA’s policy changes under Dr. Gottlieb? Do you think that this new committee will improve vaping rights? What do you think needs to happen before we start to see changes in public perception regarding vaping? Let us know in the comments.