Last March the FDA issued its much-anticipated guidelines with regards to new restrictions on vaping products. The draft had been released just weeks before Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s set exit, and was infact one of Gottlieb’s priorities following the backlash he faced for the alleged increase in teen vaping, which many conveniently blamed on the PMTA delay.
The guidance called for a ban on flavoured vaping products with the exception of tobacco, mint or menthol-flavored e-cigarettes, from retail stores that minors can access easily, such as convenience stores or gas stations.
Additionally, the document had also announced that that the infamous PMTA deadline which the FDA has been heavily criticised for, would now be moved forward by a year from 2022 to 2021. Only last week, U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey once again called out Gottlieb for the delay, saying that it was a “big, big whopping mistake” and that it helped fuel the alleged rise in teen vaping.
Harm Reduction vs Teen Vaping
Gottlieb has said that the current rates of teen vaping, indicate that the FDA has struck the wrong balance.
In response to these accusations, the Commissioner had explained that the agency was trying to strike a balance between making the products inaccessible for youth and keeping them available for adults who want to quit smoking.
“We’re trying to thread a public health needle here where we preserve some element of the availability of these products for adults while foreclosing them for kids, or at least really dramatically curtailing the availability of kids to access these products,” he said.
However in recent weeks, Gottlieb has said that the current rates of teen vaping indicate that the FDA has struck the wrong balance. He added that one of his worst days as commissioner came when he received data from the annual National Youth Tobacco Survey showing a spike in teen vaping. On the other hand, in response to these “figures” public health experts had pointed out that the statistics on youth vaping released by the agency provide no basis for its policies.
Juul Nicotine Pods
Meanwhile last month, Gottlieb said that while he was commissioner of the FDA he had considered removing nicotine pods used for vaping, and popularized by Juul, from the market, and that if he was still holding the position he would still be exploring the idea.
“We were looking to move towards putting those products in earlier anyway. Now whether or not this judge’s ruling provides the impetus for the agency to go in and do that now as opposed to waiting, I don’t know what decision they’re going to make,” Gottlieb said. “If I was there, I would certainly consider taking that action now in review of this judge’s ruling.”
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