War On Vaping Goes Up A Gear As New FDA Supremo Announced
The FDA has unveiled its grand plan to tackle the so called ‘teen vape epidemic’ putting flavoured e-liquids directly into the cross hairs with some flavours ‘likely’ to be banned outright.
The new proposals were released yesterday, the same day the White House announced the FDA’s new but ‘temporary’ commissioner as Norman ‘Ned’ Sharpless – he’s currently the director of the National Cancer Institute. His appointment comes after Scott Gottlieb’s sudden resignation last week and he’s expected to leave his post next month. More on ‘Ned’ later…
The new draft guidelines – catchilly titled: Modifications to Compliance Policy for Certain Deemed Tobacco Products are now out for a 30 day period of ‘public comment’ however looking at the FDA’s track record one doubts they’ll listen to any arguments against the proposed crack down.
So what exactly are these new ‘draft guidelines’?
Let’s take a look.
A Breakdown Of The Draft Guidelines
On making the announcement Gottlieb continued his tough talking style with the threat of action:
Under the proposed policy announced today, we’re putting all manufacturers and retailers on notice: you may be subject to FDA enforcement for selling certain flavored ENDS products without authorization.
We’ll prioritize enforcement to prevent the access and appeal of these products to kids.
If or should I say when these guidelines come into force expect to see SWAT style FDA storm-troopers raiding convenience stores – forcibly removing ‘illegal e-liquids’ and maybe even smashing them on the sidewalk…very reminiscent of those dark dry days of Prohibition…maybe 😉
OK the key points are:
- The FDA has moved the application deadline for flavoured e-cigarettes forward by one year to August 8th 2020 except for mint – menthol and tobacco flavours.
- Pods containing nicotine would only to be sold in vape shops, stores and websites that have strict age restrictions in place.
- There will be a major clampdown on ‘Child Friendly’ packaging and those mimicking other products such as candy/sweets and fruit juice.
And despite tobacco, mint and menthol flavoured e-liquids getting a ‘pass’ Gottlieb has warned that IF the FDA sees a spike in teen use of those flavours – they could be banned outright too:
We won’t ignore data regarding the popularity of mint- and menthol-flavored ENDS among kids, should the concern rise.
We’ll continue to use all available resources to monitor the rates and use patterns among youth and adults for these products, and we’ll reconsider our policies with respect to these products, if appropriate.
Now that’s just crazy if you think about it and smells like a set-up to me. When, not if the FDA removes say 90% of fruit and sweeter flavours then those under 21’s currently vaping will have nowhere to go but menthol – mint and tobacco. Meaning a sudden uptake in use of those flavours in the specific age-group triggering the FDA’s threat to consider banning those too…sneaky…
And don’t forget when walking into gas stations and local shops the kids will still see rows and rows of lit tobacco products whilst e-liquids and e-cigs will be banned from sale or at the very least hidden away…one rule for one…
The #FDA will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine. This effort will carry on. This is embedded in the public health DNA of this agency and strongly supported by @SecAzar and the White House. https://t.co/FVEEnjJotP
— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) March 13, 2019
Gottlieb was typically blunt:
- We expect that some flavored e-cigarette products will no longer be sold at all.
- We expect that other flavored e-cigarette products that continue to be sold will be sold only in a manner that prevents youth access, while premarket authorization for these products is sought from the FDA by 2021.
- We expect some flavored cigars will no longer be sold.
Look the so called ‘public comment’ period is just lip service given he ‘expects’ the draft guidelines will sail through no matter how choppy vape advocacy groups and of course the vape community and industry will make the waters…
That’s not to say they shouldn’t try and I’ll pop details of how to get involved and have your say at the end of this article.
Educating The Youth Of America On the ‘Dangers’ Of Vaping
One of my mantras around all things vape has been ‘education not legislation’ – however that education has to be fair – factual and balanced…something that in the world of vaping you rarely if ever see. In other words governments across the world – unlike the UK – have and continue to have a knee-jerk reaction and slam down the ban hammer rather that taking a calm careful approach.
There’s no mystery as to why youth vaping in the UK is nowhere near ‘epidemic’ proportions…our politicians have listened to the factual – candid and calm input from both advocacy groups and the wider vape industry and acted appropriately – unlike our American cousins.
Gottlieb says the FDA plans a roll out of TV advertisements in a bid to ‘educate’ the kids on the ‘dangers’ of e-cigarettes. However and given the FDA’s track record of on the subject I’m guessing they will be filled with false facts – shocking images and dire warnings of brain worms and zombie like symptoms. Think I’m joking – then do read my article The American Anti Vape Crowd Has Completely Lost the Plot …see what I mean?
On the subject of the TV campaign Gottlieb sounded like he was ‘getting the anti vaping band back together’ – not that they’ve ever disbanded lol:
We’re also continuing our efforts aimed at enforcement and education.
This summer, we’ll unveil the first television advertisement aimed at educating children about the risks of e-cigarettes.
I call on others who are committed to these same goals to also consider stepping up their efforts aimed at educating children of the risks of tobacco products generally, and e-cigarettes specifically.
E-cigarette use among kids has become so widespread, so pervasive, and so troubling, that we risk addicting an entire generation of children on nicotine and watching the dramatic gains we’ve made in reducing smoking rates be erased.
If current trends regarding youth use of ENDS products persist, the agency will change our approach.
These increases in youth use must stop.
Of course what he’s failing to see here is adults not only like flavoured e-cigarettes and liquids too – but current American smokers also watch TV. So scaring the kids shitless will also mean smokers in America who already think vaping is as bad or worse than lit tobacco will simply light up another so reducing life-span and the probability of a serious tobacco related illness.
And yeah I know Gottlieb occasionally has a hand wringing moment about keeping the difficult balance between adults that want to switch to keeping those nasty flavours away from the kids…but it’s all so one sided over the pond. Does anyone in any form of authority actually stand up for the proven benefits of vaping compared to smoking?
Little wonder America is said to be ‘confused’ by the whole thing especially when they see what’s happening in the UK and Europe…
Summing up Gottlieb said:
Our policies have been announced and advanced through a careful and deliberate process that involved the formulation of a broad consensus among those whose efforts are needed in making sure that these rules and guidances come to fruition.
We won’t tolerate a whole generation of kids becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same unreviewed products, and we’ll continue to put the full scope of our regulatory tools against this mounting public health crisis.
Public Health crisis? The only ‘crisis’ here is the FDA seems quite prepared to condemn current and future smokers to illness and death if it feels vaping is a threat to the kids.
The very generations to come that by statistics alone will at some point try or become smokers…crazy and criminal.
Guidelines Don’t Go far Enough Says Anti Vape Pressure Group
Whilst the world of vaping is pondering if these new guidelines will forever change the vape scene in America the soccer mom fueled anti vape crowd has said Gottlieb hasn’t gone far enough!
In particular the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids tweeted:
The limits on flavored e-cigs announced today by @FDATobacco are inadequate to reverse the youth epidemic and fail to prohibit the flavors that made e-cigs so popular with kids. This public health crisis demands faster, more forceful action. Our statement: https://t.co/C9k9CklZHC
— Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (@TobaccoFreeKids) March 13, 2019
No pleasing some people lol.
Norman Ned Sharpless WILL Continue Where Gottlieb Left Off
Ned Sharpless [sounds like a Simpson’s character lol] is the current director of the National Cancer Institute which doesn’t appear to have an official policy on e-cigarettes [that I can find anyway]. However Ned recently retweeted Gottlieb’s ‘draft guidelines’ a clear sign he’s in agreement. I’d like to think he’s kissing the ring of the old mafia don and has his own ideas…but I doubt it…
He also made it clear his thoughts on the so called ‘teen vape epidemic’ when back in February he tweeted:
Important MMWR report from @CDCTobaccoFree issued about tobacco product use among middle and high school students. Concerned to see the surge in e-cigarette use by youth in 2018, as well as persistent use of combustible tobacco products. https://t.co/uqt8XdGbnL
— Dr. Ned Sharpless (@NCIDirector) February 11, 2019
He has a fair bit in common with Gottlieb too – both being doctors with a specialism in oncology and both have strong ‘ties’ to Big Pharma. Indeed our Ned appears to be best buddies with Pfizer no less the manufacturers of Champix the FDA approved stop smoking medication.
Indeed Gottlieb was supportive of these types of drugs being used to wean kids off vaping and when trials failed he suggested companies like Pfizer should research and develop new ones…you might remember my article – Suicide or Vaping – where I show the side-effects of these drugs do include suicide.
So it might be all change at the top – even in the interim – but it’s still business as usual a case of:
…all hail the new king same as the old king…
As a footnote tobacco stock prices fell when Sharpless was announced as temporary FDA Commissioner…