Now that Scott Gottlieb has stepped down from his position as head of the FDA, the vaping community is anxious to see who comes in to take his place. Gottlieb’s relationship with the vaping industry has been anything but smooth as he’s sought to enforce stricter regulations while banning certain products. Many believe that his anti-vaping stance has led to further public misunderstanding regarding vaping as a hobby.
Obviously, how this sudden change will impact the vaping industry remains to be seen. Still, that hasn’t stopped industry experts from weighing in.
Who is Scott Gottlieb?
Scott Gottlieb has been the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2017 when he was appointed under Trump’s administration. As a licensed physician, Gottlieb specifically targeted the tobacco industry as well as the vaping industry, primarily for the ways in which he believed that these industries market their products toward underage consumers.
Vaping and smoking aside, Gottlieb focused a good deal of his attention on the opioid crisis as well as the barriers that drug manufacturers must submit to before their potentially life-saving drugs can be approved. However, his legacy, at least among avid vape enthusiasts, primarily revolves around his war with JUUL, the pod mod manufacturer who he felt inspired thousands of teens to take up vaping as a hobby despite no prior experience with tobacco.
Scott Gottlieb’s Impact on the Vaping Industry Thus Far
In his short time as commissioner of the FDA, Gottlieb fought tooth and nail to place stricter regulations on the vaping industry. There’s no doubt among vaping experts that his stance on vaping hindered the growth of the industry by promoting the notion that vaping is harmful to the general public. However, others argue that stricter regulations can eventually lead to positive changes within the industry as manufacturers of vaping products will be forced to comply with high production standards, resulting in superior products overall.
The Great JUUL Crackdown of 2018
Famously, Gottlieb fought to take flavored JUUL pod flavors off of the shelves in establishments in which underage consumers could legally be present. Alarmed by statistics relating to how many teenagers use JUUL, Gottlieb felt that the company was consciously marketing their products toward youth by creating non-tobacco flavors such as mango and mixed fruit. As a result, all establishments that allow teenagers to come in may no longer sell flavored JUUL pods but instead must stick to tobacco and menthol flavors.
Gottlieb’s war with JUUL seemed a little personal at times. In 2018, he surprised the company’s manufacturing plant with an unscheduled inspection. It seems as though the inspection went smoothly, however, possibly foiling a plan to take down the company.
Stricter Regulations Overall
One of the biggest priorities Gottlieb had during his time as commissioner was enforcing stricter regulations on vaping products. Because vaping products had not been approved by the FDA, Gottlieb expressed concern that companies were taking advantage of lax production regulations by creating products containing questionable ingredients. Gottlieb wished to tighten manufacturing practices, especially relating to the ingredients in e-liquid as well as the amount of nicotine that could be legally sold in one bottle of vape juice.
Leniency Regarding Deadlines
One move that actually benefited the vaping industry was Gottlieb’s willingness to offer deadlines to vape companies waiting for approval in order to sell their products. When Gottlieb initially announced his plans to require approval for all vape products, many companies were worried that they would have to pull all of their products from the shelves while waiting for approval. Gottlieb gave these companies extensions so that they could continue to sell their products during the wait, allowing them to continue thriving.
Crackdown on Big Tobacco
Gottlieb was also very interested in changing laws relating to how tobacco companies produce their cigarettes. Famously, he suggested enacting a law that would require that tobacco cigarettes each contain half the amount of nicotine that they do now. Many praised him for his efforts while vaping experts saw this as an opportunity. If cigarettes would no longer be able to contain high levels of nicotine, many experts felt that smokers would turn to vaping in order to get the amount of satisfaction that they’re used to.
What Gottlieb’s Resignation Can Mean for the Future of Vaping
Gottlieb resigned only recently, citing that he required more time with his family than he was capable of getting under the demanding circumstances of his job. As of now, what the FDA does next is completely unknown. However, vaping experts have suspected that some major changes are to come.
As it turns out, many experts in and with our industry find more regulation to be a good thing. They believe that stricter regulation could give a new layer of legitimacy to the vaping industry as a whole. Plus, many experts believe that stricter manufacturing processes means more transparency relating to what it is that we’re consuming and how it affects our bodies.
Others feel like a future commissioner may look to European vaping laws and regulations for inspiration. In Europe, pro-vaping legislation is quickly turning the vaping industry into a thriving market.
Some experts are concerned that the next person to take Gottlieb’s place will be less strict about teenage access to vaping products. However, other industry experts argue that these products are not manufactured toward teenagers anyway, and that access to them is more limited than Gottlieb believes it to be.
Others are concerned that the leniency that Gottlieb showed toward companies waiting for approval will disappear with the next commissioner. This could mean that many vaping companies have to indefinitely pull their products off of shelves, meaning that many of our favorite companies could go under.
One Way or Another, Gottlieb’s Resignation Will Change the Future of Vaping
No matter who comes in to take Gottlieb’s place, it’s pretty certain that the future of the vaping industry will change as a result. Vapers are hoping that the new commissioner has a friendlier attitude toward vaping so that the industry can thrive like never before.