Gottlieb spoke at a recent Axios News Shapers event, along with two students from Winston Churchill High School, American Vaping Association President Gregory Conley, and CATCH Global Foundation CEO Duncan Van Dusen.
Gottlieb said: “We have two problems: [e-cigarettes] are too appealing to kids and they’re too accessible to kids. This is a public health emergency. There’s nothing to indicate to me that this trend isn’t growing. We’re getting into frightening numbers of kids using these products.”
Although nobody wants to see non-smokers and teens getting into vaping, Gottlieb didn’t mention that his 75% increase equates to very small numbers of never-smokers.
He spoke about how the FDA is now considering using measures to block online sales of vape products and mentioned that the latest announcement from the FDA will come in November.
One of the students said: “Kids can get their hands on the devices much easier. There’s a lot of retail stores that will sell to kids. Fake IDs are used not just for alcohol but for vaping," highlighting that the issue has nothing to do with online verification but shops carrying out illegal sales.
The other student said: “The kids who aren’t involved in the culture of going out and drinking and smoking aren’t involved in it,” emphasising the small cohort involved and that they are already indulging in other risky behaviours.
Gregory Conley spoke about the need for flavours that Gottlieb appears to be so against now: “E-cigarettes help adults get off of deadly products. The vast majority of vapers are using non-tobacco flavours. That’s why so many former tobacco users say it’s so effective.”
Chris Howard, a lawyer working for the vaping industry, commented: “Can someone tell me, is the rulemaking process out the window? Now everyone will be fretting about an online sales ban despite the fact that this is not simply something that just happens overnight.”
Stefan Didak, Founder and President of NOT Blowing Smoke, wrote about how the latest FDA campaign is being perceived by teens he has spoken to: “The response I got from a group of 11th graders was that they felt the message of fear was too over the top to take seriously. They asked why they aren't getting honest and ‘real’ information. It's anecdotal and it was a small group. They did feel it could scare adults away too.”
Banning online sales seems like it would be a step too far for the FDA and highly unlikely to happen, but questions have to be asked as to why Gottlieb though it was a good idea to even raise the subject.