Late Friday evening, the Trump White House made a somewhat mysterious announcement that vaping protagonist Dr. Vivek Murthy would be immediately dismissed from his position as U.S. Surgeon General. Without warning, he would be replaced by non-other than Murthy’s former deputy and current holdover from the Obama Administration, Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams. Meanwhile, all government websites and social media accounts were instantly scrubbed of Murthy’s former existence within minutes.
Why the rush?
The American vaping industry is hopefully optimistic that the abrupt firing is a positive sign that the FDA deeming regulations are finally on the chopping block. After all, Trump has not yet made his own pick to fill the post, instead opting to toss Murthy out the door seemingly overnight in favor of a temporary replacement.
To add even more intrigue, Trent-Adams was first appointed to the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service (CCPHS) back during the days of former-President Bill Clinton whom Trump allegedly despises. Wouldn’t it make better political sense to delay Murthy’s dismissal until Trump has finally settled on his own choice to fill the post?
Furthermore, while Trent-Adams is a nearly 25-year veteran of the CCPHS, she lacks the credentials of a licensed medical physician like 39-year old Murthy. Instead, Trent-Adams is a highly-qualified nurse officer for the agency and the Deputy Associate Administrator for the HIV/AIDS bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It is this agency that the FDA is an included subordinate branch.
The White House issued the following statement.
“Dr. Murthy has been relieved of his duties as Surgeon General and will continue to serve as a member of the Commissioned Corps. [DHHS] Secretary Price thanks him for his dedicated service to the nation. Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, who is the current Deputy Surgeon General, will serve as the acting Surgeon General and assume leadership of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.”
Trump budget, FDA funding, and government shutdown
As the April 28 deadline approaches for the passage of Trump’s first fiscal budget, the politically divided Congress is once again facing the threat of a government shutdown. And one of the chief points of contention contained in the bill is rumored to be funds associated with the FDA – specifically, the controversial deeming regulations and the related Cole-Bishop Amendment.
Murthy made shock waves just days before then President-elect Donald Trump was to enter the White House by making several anti-vaping statements that gained worldwide attention. In December of 2016, Murthy posted his allegations that electronic cigarettes contain volatile organic compounds and can easily lead to teen smoking. He made these statements contrary to reams of scientific evidence showing no connection whatsoever.
To many in the vaping community, the language used in Murthy’s statements sounded eerily similar to that of numerous reports previously published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in months past. The striking similarities led many to speculate that the Surgeon General was secretly working in collusion with FDA Chief Thomas Frieden of the FDA to eradicate the vaping industry to benefit Big Pharma. Of course, this is all speculation.
Why did Trump fired Surgeon General Vivek Murthy so quickly, only to allow another Democrat-appointed holdover to take his job? Vapers should be aware that Murthy was very unpopular among Conservative Republicans for a wide variety of reasons. His anti-vaping rhetoric notwithstanding, Murthy also angered GOP leaders with his controversial statements regarding gun control and childhood immunization, among several other issues.
And Trent-Adams’ views on vaping are still unclear. But Murthy’s abrupt Friday firing does make many in the American vaping community breathless with cheerful anticipation for what is to come next.
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