If you follow vaping news, you’ve probably noticed by now that many countries around the world are far more supportive of the vaping industry than the United States. If you’ve wondered why that is the case, it has a lot to do with Scott Gottlieb. As head of the FDA under Trump’s administration, Gottlieb has put an enormous amount of effort into preventing the general public from viewing vaping as a better alternative to smoking.
Now that Gottlieb has resigned, the vaping world is eager to see who will come in to take his place. At the moment, the vaping industry in America is thriving more than ever before, meaning that more and more people are quitting smoking in order to invest in e-cigarettes. So, will legislation start to support the industry? It all depends on who comes in to pick up where Gottlieb left off.
Who Exactly is Scott Gottlieb?
Before Scott Gottlieb was appointed by President Trump to become commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), he was a licensed physician who acted as a clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine. During his time heading the FDA, Gottlieb won much admiration for his focus on the opioid crisis that is claiming the lives of a large number of Americans. Gottlieb also fought to make pharmaceutical drugs more financially accessible to low-income families.
Vapers best know Gottlieb for his impact on the vaping industry, however. Any vaper who follows the news knows that Gottlieb’s views toward e-cigarette products haven’t exactly been warm.
Call for Stricter Regulations
Between 2017 and 2019, Gottlieb made many promises in regard to enforcing strict regulations relating to the ways in which e-cigarette and vaping products could be manufactured, sold and marketed. Famously, Gottlieb announced plans to regulate the amount of nicotine allowed in e-liquid. He also showed an interest in banning flavors in e-juice products, including menthol.
One of Gottlieb’s greatest concerns was that minors would become addicted to vape products because of appealing flavors and packaging. Of course, the vaping industry has argued all along that vape and e-cigarette products are solely marketed toward adults who are looking for an alternative to smoking.
Giving Vape Brands a Pass
After the FDA announced that all vape brands needed to be approved by the FDA, he decided to extend the approval deadline so that companies wouldn’t go out of business due to their products being pulled off of shelves. Many found this to be a sign of Gottlieb’s willingness to work with the industry rather than abolish it.
Gottlieb wasn’t just against e-cigarettes. He considered electronic cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes to be equally dangerous, proposing legislation that would hinder both industries. For a time, he looked to enforce rules regarding the amount of nicotine allowed in tobacco cigarettes. It was said that he planned to pass legislation requiring tobacco industries to cut the nicotine level in cigarettes by half. Of course, that plan has yet to come to fruition.
Vaping advocates argued that by cutting down the nicotine in cigarettes, more adults might decide to pick up vaping in order to get their fix, meaning that his regulations could actually help the vaping industry.
The Great JUUL Debate
The battle against vaping took a turn for the worse when Gottlieb announced in 2018 that he intended to ban all flavored JUUL products from being sold in brick and mortar stores. Gottlieb believed that the rising popularity of JUUL made minors vulnerable to becoming addicted to nicotine without any prior history of tobacco use.
In fact, Gottlieb imposed a surprise inspection on the company by entering their manufacturing facility unannounced. Needless to say, he did not find anything within the facility that was against standard manufacturing regulations.
However, Gottlieb was successful in that he was able to enforce the rule that brick and mortar stores cannot sell flavored JUUL pods. Currently, stores can only offer tobacco and menthol flavors. To get the other flavors, one must buy them from the company’s website or visit vape specialty shops where minors are restricted from entering.
Is Scott Gottlieb’s Departure a Good Thing for Vapers?
Scott Gottlieb will stay with the FDA through the end of the month. In the meantime, the public does not know who will be appointed to take his place. The vaping industry is apprehensive to view his departure as a positive thing as the next commissioner could be just as harsh, if not harsher, toward the industry.
While Gottlieb will go down in history for trying to hinder the vaping industry, he did have his moments that showed leniency, primarily by extending the deadline approval for vape companies. Who knows if the next person to take his place will show the same attitude?
Of course, the next commissioner may be inspired by changing policies regarding vaping around the world. In Canada, vape products have finally become legalized and certain regulations have been put into place that have actually helped the industry earn the public’s trust. Meanwhile, in England, vaping is slowly being recommended to people who smoke by the Government itself.
Regardless of who takes Gottlieb’s place, it’s clear that the vaping industry in America isn’t going anywhere. Currently, more than five percent of Americans are daily vapers. Meanwhile, the number of smokers continues to fall in large numbers annually. Whether or not the next commissioner demonizes the vaping industry, hindering its success may be nearly impossible.