So the hammer has started to swing down upon us. Scott Gottlieb, the lead commissioner of the FDA, has recently talked about some interesting new regulations on the Vapor industry in a piece by Washington Post. Before I detail exactly what his new rules are, I want to mention a couple things. One being, this wasn’t, and will never be about public health. Every time an advocacy post is made, comments come flooding in talking about how these regulations will harm the public good, rather than help it. We need to remove ourselves from the idea that the FDA actually stands up for public health, because they couldn’t be more far removed. The entire goal of the FDA is to funnel money from private corporations, into the public fund base, which in turn leads into donor pockets. If the FDA were actually on the side of the people, then cigarettes would be banned, opiates would be demolished, and our own drinking water wouldn’t be polluted. But even in the last week, the FDA has approved a new opiate which is 10x more powerful than Fentanyl, a compound which has been killing Americans at a faster rate than any drug ever before it. But on the inverse, the other thing I want to mention is that regulation IS something I welcome. Making sure the products we inhale have some sort of standard and in turn are tested and studied, is something I’m sure we could all get behind. Even after a decade of being around, there still isn’t much known about the long term effects of vaping. The problem is that this is not the type of regulation the FDA is looking at, again, because they do not care about “health”.
We know one of the buzzwords that pop up when we hear about vaping is EPIDEMIC. “Vaping has become an EPIDEMIC with the Youth” “The Youth Vaping EPIDEMIC is destroying the nation” “The Vaping EPIDEMIC is creating a new generation of addicts!”. This notion that vaping, and to be more specific “juuling,” being an epidemic, is right out of the Trump 2016 handbook, playing on the fears of older men and women around the country. Fear is the driving theme in today’s politics, and it’s because it works. Classifying vaping as an epidemic allows the ruling party to do as they please with an entire industry, with almost no obstructions in the way. Given this administrations FDA is Republican, they will have almost 100% support from Democrats on any sort of deep, heavy regulations. Something the GOP claims to be against. So we’re at the mercy of Gottlieb’s hand, and he just played one.
One of the ways Gottlieb is trying to curb back youth vaping is by going after flavors. For the last 6-7 years, vaping advocates have been screaming at companies to tone down their marketing, in hopes to keep regulations away from eyeing flavors. Well, we all know how that panned out. So now the FDA’s entire mission has set against flavors themselves, and not how they are advertised. With this, he’s planning on banning all flavored vapor products from any stores other than specialty vape shops. This comes from the idea that most underage users are buying vapor products more easily at these places. I think this is a smart move by Gottlieb. It satisfies the ANTI’s, shows action, but doesn’t quite do much. Juul, Mark Ten, Blu, and other similar devices will basically remain unfazed. My only worry is that this is a preemptive move to fully ban flavors. Mainly because this will do nothing to stop underage use. Most youths get these products from those of-age.
Gottlieb also is eyeing online sales. Again, going off another false premise. Underage users are not really purchasing products online. They just get their older friends or family members to buy them for them. Much like we all did with cigarettes. All this really does is add another obstacle in the way, and hinder purchases from adult smokers and vapers. What’s interesting as well is Gottlieb seems to understand that. In the article, he mentions only about 10% of sales come from online. So while this might prove somewhat effective, it’s a drop in the bucket.
One thing that’s most worrying to me is the language Gottlieb continues to use. In the article, he mentioned that “additional measures” would be coming down the pike if his new regulations don’t prove effective. But anyone with common sense understands, these regulations won’t be effective. It seems this is more foreshadowing than an actual threat. He’s been increasingly more frustrated with the vaping industry and its own inaction, and I don’t necessarily blame him. Almost nothing is being done, and even worse, nothing being worked on. I talk to companies all the time, and many speak as if there is nothing wrong, almost as if they will be around forever. The willful ignorance is quite shocking. So seeing the steps Gottlieb is taking isn’t a surprise to anyone paying attention. It’s more disheartening.