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Gottlieb’s Existential Crisis

Scott Gottlieb used doom-laden language to up the ante in his war against the fictional vaping foe

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Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has upped the ante in his war against a fictional teen vaping epidemic at a public hearing in Maryland. The most successful tobacco harm reduction tool ever invented faces an "existential threat" if vapers and vape companies don’t act to prevent teen use, he said.

With no shame, he began his brief attendance by telling the audience: “our focus is the potential role that drug therapies may play in the broader effort to eliminate e-cigarette and other tobacco use among young people.”

And, with that statement, he lays clear the motivation to warp statistics and drive an agenda creating the appearance of a teen epidemic: “drug therapies”.

“Smoking rates among adults reached an all-time low in 2017,” he continued, but followed it by claiming the “progress is being undercut – even eclipsed – by the recent, dramatic rise in youth vaping”.

“A few years ago, it would have been incredible to me that we’d be here, discussing the potential for drug therapy to help addicted youth vapers quit nicotine,” Gottlieb continued. Trust us, Scott, we find it pretty incredible too – but probably for different reasons.

By continually referring to vaping as “tobacco products”, Gottlieb muddies the waters on purpose, but few in the audience were wise to his intent. He was preaching to those holding a borderline religious fervour, one that became evident in the mix of idiotic and disgraceful comment that followed his.

CEI’s Michelle Minton quotes a 70-year old man saying: “Teens don't think about the future except maybe whether they can get a date with Mary.”

University of California San Francisco’s Lauren Lempert stated that telling teens that vaping is less harmful than smoking is “misleading them”, and the FDA should stop telling this truth to adults. Lempert also demanded that the FDA crack down on vaper testimonials claiming that it worked to help them quit.

“The FDA should fulfil its legal mandate and immediately pull from the market all e-cigarettes that have not been pre-approved,” Lempert said. “They should prohibit all internet sales of e-cigarettes. Age verification schemes do not work, she said, and teens find ways to buy vapes online. Let’s face it, kids think e-cigarettes are cool and they use them as recreational products.”

Evidence provided? Nil.

Nor did Stanford’s Bonnie Halpern-Felsher offer any research up when she said: “There is no evidence that adults need these flavours to quit smoking. We need to stop saying that e-cigarettes are safe or safer and prevent e-cigarette companies from making these unauthorized risk claims. Youth hear them. We need to stop saying that e-cigarettes help adults stop smoking when there not clear evidence that this is the case.”

The prizes for mendacity and dishonour were awarded to RuthAnne McCormack of the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth on Rockville. McCormack claimed the 4th Grade kids she’s spoken to are using three Juul pods per day and the “kids say to me, they have been vaping for maybe five or six years.”

So, they began vaping Juuls five years before they were invented, using pods that didn’t exist, in a manner that would mean they are vaping constantly from dawn till bedtime and constantly vomiting?

McCormack saved peak stupid for her despicable claim that vaping drove an anonymous teen to commit suicide by jumping in front of a train.

Gottlieb uses simpletons like McCormack to justify saying: “I’ll tell you this. If the youth use continues to rise, and we see significant increases in use in 2019, on top of the dramatic rise in 2018, the entire category will face an existential threat.”

He ignores science, he blanks the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England, and his industry interaction is limited to “debating with tobacco makers”.

Given that Gottlieb refuses to accept the number of regular teen vapers in America is restricted to a cohort of ‘are/would be smokers’, so his proclamation that this rate has to drop comes with built-in failure.

When he states, “Evidence shows that minors are especially attracted to flavoured ENDS products, and that youth access these products from both brick and mortar retailers as well as online,” the threat is implicit: flavoured eliquids are doomed in the United States.

Then it will be time for the FDA to support his “drug therapies”, presumably nicotine patches, sprays and flavoured gums; nicotine products that have failed a generation of adult smokers and contain the one product he is saying attacks teen brain development.

If it wasn’t so ridiculous it would be funny.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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