Ex-FDA Chief Gottlieb: JUUL is the problem, not adult vape shops

On Monday, former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said that pod-style vapor products like JUUL, NJOY, and Vuse should be the primary focus of a possible Trump flavor ban.  Citing two recently published studies that clarify the scope of use of electronic cigarettes by American youth, Gottlieb says it has become abundantly clear that JUUL cannot “keep their products out of the hands of kids.  He would also add, “what’s driving the youth use is primarily JUUL.”

One of those studies was funded by the FDA, which may be why its findings are carrying so much weight within the Trump Administration.  Published on November 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the study found that 27.5 percent of the high schoolers interviewed claim to be active vapers.  10.5 percent of middle schoolers make similar assertions, and these numbers may be even higher since youngsters tend to be less truthful out of fear of repercussions by authority figures, parents, and school administrators. 

Gottlieb talks vaping ban on CNBC

The studies further determined that, overall, about 50 percent of underage vapers are purchasing, using, and sharing specifically JUUL products, and the top-selling flavor is currently mint.  The San-Francisco-based vapor company immediately halted the sales of their mint-flavored pods within hours of the study’s release, but In an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box,, Gottlieb says that “it’s hard to unring that bell.”

“Well, it looks like what the kids are abusing are the cartridge-based products like JUUL and Vuse and NJOY.  They like the disposable, cheap products that are flavored.  They like the form and fashion.  They like the high nicotine content of those products including Juul."
So, I think it’s potentially sound to ban those products, or try to restrict access to those products, and carve out the vape stores.  That’s something that we were looking to do when I was at the FDA because the adult vape stores, by and large, serve the adult population.
But I think at this point, you really need to look at potentially pulling all of those cartridges-based products off the market because I’m not sure that they have enough redeeming public health benefit and value given all the youth use.”

Gottlieb also argues that a significant reason that JUUL products are so popular among teens is their intentional design that can be easily mistaken for a USB drive rather than a vaping device by the unsuspecting eyes of adults. Unlike high-tech vaporizers and bottled, non-pod-style e-liquids typically sold in brick-and-mortar vape shops, Juul products have become “fashionable” among teens and, therefore, “can’t exist on the market anymore.”

President Trump announced his intentions to ban flavored vapes nationwide during a September 11 press conference at the White House.  However, comments by the president last Friday seem to indicate that he may be changing his mind under pressure from vaping advocacy groups.  Trump told reporters on the White House lawn that he’s considering raising the legal vaping age to “21 or so” as part of his plan to curb teen vaping. 

Related Article:  With a new CEO and promised of 500 layoffs by Christmas, is JUUL the future of vaping or the past?

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