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‘It’s combustible cigarettes (not e-cigs) that are the problem,’ says FDA’s Gottlieb on CNBC

FDA wants to cap nicotine levels in cigarettes from CNBC.

Many consider FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to be a friend of the vaping community, but there seems to be a definitive limit to just how much political cover he is willing to give.  In an interview last Friday on CNBC Squawk Box, Gottlieb predominately took aim at Big Tobacco, but he also issued a sort of masked warning to American vapers.  The use of electronic cigarettes by children is a “big concern.”

Gottlieb was taking to the mainstream media talk shows largely because of the FDA release on the Thursday prior regarding a “formal notice of proposed rulemaking” related to the soon-to-be-implemented maximum levels of nicotine in combustible cigarettes.  The agency is essentially asking for guidance from public health officials and tobacco control experts on how best to roll out the new changes.

What should the new maximum levels be?  And should the new nicotine limitations be implemented all at once or incrementally? 

"It's really the first step in the rule-making process to try to pursue regulations that will ultimately lead to a reduction in nicotine levels in cigarettes," said Gottlieb during his CNBC Squawk Box interview.

Currently, the proposed nicotine regulations seem to be largely targeted at combustible cigarettes, but e-cigs will likely be thrown into the mix, as well.  After all, the FDA deeming regulations now officially classify electronic cigarettes and e-liquids as “tobacco products” even though e-cigs are 100% tobacco-free.

Stop selling e-cigs to kids, or else!

While most of the interview was focused on the negative health risks associated with combustible tobacco, Gottlieb also made some rather positive comments about electronic cigarettes.  While he did not say outright that vaping can be marketed as a smoking cessation product like FDA-approved nicotine gums and lozenges, he did praise e-cigs for their health benefits regarding tobacco harm reduction.

“We’re looking to try to transition smokers to modified risk products, less harmful products.  We see a lot of potential from new product innovation that’s coming on the market including electronic cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery systems.  It might be modified risk ways to receive nicotine if you’re an adult who still wants to get access to satisfying levels of nicotine.  And so by regulating the nicotine content in combustible cigarettes, we think we can more quickly migrate smokers off of combustible tobacco onto modified risk products, or preferable to encourage them to quit altogether.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Diseased Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2 million American high school and middle school students engaged in e-cigarette use at some point in 2016.  The statistics do not differentiate between kids who were daily vapers and those who may have just experimented with an e-cig once or twice out of peer pressure.   However, it seems clear that Gottlieb received the same CDC memo because he also issued the following, rather ominous statement.

"If all we end up doing is addicting a whole new generation on nicotine through e-cigarettes, then we will have done a bad service to this country."

It’s almost as if Gottlieb is issuing a thinly veiled warning to the American vaping industry.  Stop selling to kids, or else!

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