The election of Donald Trump and his appointment of Scott Gottlieb to be the next head of the Food and Drug Administration is thought of as a positive step towards loosening unneeded regulations and correcting the FDA’s curious regulation of tobacco products.
Today, the FDA rules lump together all products that contain nicotine, which includes electronic cigarettes. This makes little sense as the research indicates that the e-cigarette does not present the same danger to the user as tobacco cigarettes. The regulations as they stand today make vaping more expensive than is considered reasonable by the industry.
This is because manufacturers of vapor products must fill out expensive applications and be submitted to burdensome regulations because of their contents compared to tobacco cigarettes which are under no such restriction. This means that 99% of vape products may be removed from the marketplace while tobacco products remain in place despite their well-noted dangers.
It does seem that Gottlieb realizes the hypocrisy of the situation as he has written about how it makes so little sense. Before, the federal government considered e-cigs in the same capacity as tobacco products, despite their lack of carcinogens that are found in tobacco itself. The assertion that e-cigs contain tobacco and that many smokers have switched to vaping to stay away from tobacco did not seem to penetrate the curious decision-making at the FDA at least before the arrival of Gottlieb.
With the Surgeon General at the time convinced that both tobacco and electronic cigarettes were the same because they contained nicotine was in direct conflict with the favored use of nicotine in gum and patches which provided the same substance to the body. By not admitting to the differences inherent in tobacco smoking and vaping, it put the entire e-cigarette industry in danger in the US.
So badly had the situation been handled that many smokers might have assumed that going back to tobacco products was safer than vaping. It also blurred the lines between tobacco products that were considered “light” were somehow safer than e-cigs which had no tobacco at all.
It does seem that the overall intent was to scare the younger generation into not smoking or vaping at all. While a noble goal, it was highly misleading and downright dangerous as it may have had the effect of keeping heavy smokers from switching to the far safer vape products which in turn greatly lower the risk of tobacco-related diseases such as lung cancer.
Gottlieb is more in the mode of identifying tobacco and its pitfalls as the real culprit while cutting the regulations for electronic cigarettes and vaping products. This may need Congressional approval to overturn FDA regulations and create sensible guidelines that separate the e-cigarette and vapor products from tobacco.
In the end, honesty is the best policy when it comes to warning adults about the dangers of tobacco products. By lumping in e-cigarettes, the FDA has done more harm than good in their quest to lower the number of new smokers.