Squawk Box Alert: Is Gottlieb implementing a vaping flavor ban in 60 days?
In a recent interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb used his time in the spotlight to blast the Juul company for a perceived rise in teen vaping. His mainstream media rant came just hours after the FDA ordered five major manufacturers of electronic vaping technology to submit corporate plans of action to address the issue of teen vaping prevention. These plan submissions are mandatory and must be submitted within the next 60-days.
The same FDA press release also states that over 1,300 individual businesses within the vaping technology sector have recently been issued official warning letters and/or financial penalties related to underage sales. During the Squawk Box interview, Gottlieb claims that this national surge in teen vaping is largely due to Juul and its kid-appealing marketing practices.
“We have access to early data right now that we’re going to make public very soon that shows us that the proportion of high school teenagers that using e-cigarettes is reaching nothing short of an epidemic level, in my view. And it requires us to step in and take dramatic action to try to curtail this.”
FDA Chief Gottlieb then goes on to suggest that his agency will further be targeting flavored e-liquids, as well. He acknowledges that vaping technology may provide certain health benefits for adult smokers trying to quit, but he also firmly states that these benefits should not come at the expense of teen nicotine addiction and “eventually onto (combustible) tobacco products.” Once again, Gottlieb seems to be intentionally conflating nicotine with tobacco while promoting the unproven claim that teen vaping is a gateway to adult smoking.
“So, unfortunately, in order to close the on-ramp to kids, we’re going to have to narrow that on-ramp for adults. And the thing we’re looking at right now is removing the flavors – the characterizing flavors – from e-cigarette products.”
Squawk Box host and interviewer Rebecca Quick also chimed in.
“That makes sense. I mean, it never made sense to me the argument that adults who are trying to quit smoking would suddenly turn to vaping for flavors like mango or donut or pineapple. That seems like it’s entirely designed to lure in non-smokers and new customers.”
The Trump-appointed FDA commissioner promised that he would “keep an open eye” (he most likely meant open “mind”) on the situation before implementing any new vaping regulations, but he also makes another, more ominous declaration. Gottlieb states clearly and firmly that he will "hear them out over the next 60 days before we take action." The possibility of a future vaping ban on flavored e-liquids looks to be all but imminent, unless the five e-cig manufacturers listed in the FDA press release - Juul, Vuse, MarkTen XL, Blu and Logic 60 – can convince Mr. Gottlieb otherwise.
(Image courtesy of CNBC)