Newly appointed FDA Commissioner says focus of his administration will be reducing the influence of nicotine, acknowledging it lies at the heart of the problem and solution.
Ever since Donald Trump was inaugurated in January, vaping retailers have wondered how the United States Food and Drug Administration would handle the regulation of tobacco. Would they continue the course of equating vaping with smoking, or would they blaze a new path and support vaping as a legitimate smoking cessation tool? Some big news on this front came from the newly appointed FDA commissioner in late July. Dr. Scott Gottlieb issued a release that said stopping nicotine addiction would be a main focus of the administration. In regards to e-cigarettes, Dr. Gottlieb said that they needed to be further understood and they would be open to public discussion. They had already extended the start date for the “deeming rule” till 2022. This move has been very controversial depending on your personal position. Essentially it is the first time that vaping is going to become regulated by the same standards as traditional cigarettes. Those in favor of the deeming rules say that they are necessary due to the general lack of regulation on vaping products, especially e-liquids. But opponents say that these new regulations will only further diminish the potentially life saving benefits of vaping as well as hurt many small vape shop owners across the country who are already struggling under exorbitant state and local taxes.
A Cigarette Free World
Dr. Gottlieb presented an ambitious vision for a world in which cigarettes “no longer create or sustain addiction”. He believes it’s absolutely vital that this goal is worked toward. To this end, the agency announced a very unorthodox plan to work with cigarette companies in order to lower the amount of nicotine found in cigarettes. The FDA plans on issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in order to gather more information on the risks and benefits of this proposed lowering. Their main idea is that lowering nicotine would likely decrease the amount of teenagers who become addicted to cigarettes when they first pick them up. According to Gottlieb, “nicotine lives at the core of both the problem and the solution to the question of addiction”. He suggested that this is the only way for health agencies to effectively address the smoking epidemic. They’ve decided they must work toward setting a lower standard for the amount of nicotine allowed in cigarettes.
As is seemingly always the case, the proposed new regulations on cigarettes incorrectly lump e-cigarettes into the tobacco products category. This inevitably makes the already poor image of vaping worse, limiting the amount of people who will understand or accept them as legitimate smoking cessation tools. A 2015 study by Public Health England found that over half of people surveyed didn’t understand that vaping was any safer than smoking, let alone 95% safer. This sort of plan feeds into a point of view that has lead to millions of more preventable deaths. By resolving to consistently paint vaping in a negative light without acknowledging the proven benefits, they preclude many smokers who want desperately to quit from ever trying something shown to help more than half of daily users quit smoking. Luckily, the FDA commissioner also made clear that an open public commentary period would happen, as is protocol.
Time To Act
The public comment period is a mandatory part of many pieces of the FDA’s policy making. Usually they are about 60 days and they give the public a chance to take part in the policy making process. Anyone can mail or email the FDA your comments on a proposed policy and according to their site, they are “carefully considered”. Regardless of how closely they take them into account, it provides a great opportunity for us to send a united message to the public health agencies whose policies are equating vaping with smoking. Your actions of misguided mitigation have directly lead to millions of preventable deaths by keeping life saving information away from the people who need it most.
What do you think about the new FDA commissioner’s stance? How important is it that public health agencies start to come on board with vaping? Do you think that equating vaping with smoking is actively hurting the public image of vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments.