President Trump’s nominee for Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, is a doctor and health analyst who has made statements about the benefits of getting smokers to move towards safer products. That is why some experts believe that when Gottlieb takes over as head of the FDA, he may push the administration away from its current attitude that all tobacco products are alike, and towards something that acknowledges the very big difference between different nicotine delivery systems.
Writing for Bloomberg, tobacco researcher Michael Siegel says that the current FDA rules that will take effect in 2018 will make it difficult for e-cigarettes to remain on the market, while at the same time, combustible tobacco cigarettes will be relieved of competition. This is how the FDA wants it, despite that the fact that volumes of scientific evidence shows that using e-cigarettes is dramatically safer than smoking.
The negative attitude towards e-cigarettes and vaping largely stems from the U.S. Surgeon General’s report that declares e-cigarettes to be tobacco products because they contain nicotine. Though other products that contain nicotine like gums and patches are not considered to be tobacco products, e-cigarettes are. The report warns strongly of the dangers of nicotine itself, but makes no explanation for why, of all the various products that contain nicotine, only e-cigarettes are a danger that could be as harmful as smoking.
The report also criticizes the tobacco industry for misleading statements over the years, while doing the same thing itself by warning of possible dangers of e-cigarettes that are simply not known to exist. Surveys have shown that most people now believe that e-cigarettes are as dangerous as or possibly even more dangerous than smoking, though the real scientific evidence shows e-cigarettes to actually be almost 100 percent safer.
The fear-mongering on the part of the U.S. government and many anti-smoking groups is causing smokers to receive the wrong message, and this could lead them to give up the idea of quitting and just stay with tobacco cigarettes. While the situation across the Atlantic couldn’t be more different: United Kingdom health officials are fully behind e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking and encourage the country’s government to recommend that smokers switch to vaping; in the United States, the government’s attitude and policies are paving the way for smoking rates to remain stable and the public health to continue to suffer.
While there are efforts underway to adjust the FDA rules on e-cigarettes to make them more logical and increase the safer alternatives available to smokers, it is hoped that new FDA leadership will keep e-cigarette regulation on the right path, away from tobacco smoking and towards better health.