Should FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb demand Mitch Zeller to resign over vaping regs?

In the over nine months since Donald Trump won the White House, the vaping community has heard hardly a peep out of good, old Mitch Zeller, architect of the FDA deeming regulations.   With all the excitement of a Republican Presidency and a Trump appointment of an apparently pro-vaping Scott Gottlieb to run the FDA, has the vaping community simply forgotten about good, old Mitch?

Where on earth is Mitch Zeller?

Maybe that’s precisely what Zeller is hoping.  The Obama-appointee is still there, claiming his throne as Director of the Center for Tobacco Products.  But he hasn’t been in the press much lately – until this week, that is. 

In a published news release, the FDA is aiming to expand its public education programs to prevent youth vaping.  Even though Gottlieb seems to have approved the FDA news release, portions of the document sound eerily reminiscent of many of Mitch’s previous postulations of pontificating propaganda demonizing vapers as creepy, corrupters of kids. 

“Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it would pursue a strategic, new public health education campaign aimed at discouraging the use of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) by kids. The agency plans to expand its ‘The Real Cost’ public education campaign to include messaging to teens about the dangers of using these products this fall while developing a full-scale campaign to launch in 2018.”

To be fair, both Gottlieb and Zeller provide quotes for the news announcement.  In the opinion of this blogger, Gottlieb seems to be attempting to walk a very fine line between pro-vaping ally and teen vaping protagonist in his issued statement.  But then again, shouldn’t all vapers be taking a similar stance? 

“While we pursue a policy that focuses on addressing the role that nicotine plays in keeping smokers addicted to combustible cigarettes, and to help move those who cannot quit nicotine altogether onto less harmful products, we will also continue to work vigorously to keep all tobacco products out of the hands of kids.”

Meanwhile, Zeller offers a statement of his own.

“The FDA has a multi-pronged effort to protect kids from using any nicotine-containing product, including e-cigarettes.  As we continue to learn more about these products and their relationship to youth, the agency will be better prepared to help address the issue of youth use through science-based educational efforts and regulatory policies that will ultimately pay the greatest dividends in reducing tobacco-related disease and death.”

That term “science-based” is pure political speak spoken in the past by Gottlieb himself.  He used that phrase many times during his Senate Confirmation hearings and elsewhere.  And now Zeller is using it, too.

Is Zeller simply a kiss-ass who is trying to save his job?  Or does he really believe in those nasty, old FDA deeming regulations – the ones that he was instrumental in creating and that Scott Gottlieb just the kibosh on until 2022?  Which way does this guy swing, anyway?

Is it time for the new FDA Chief to ask for Zeller’s resignation?  And if so, what is he waiting for?



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