The leader of the Food and Drug Administration acknowledged Thursday that nicotine is not the enemy in the war against smoking while lauding technologies helping smokers quit.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke about his plans to curb the U.S. smoking rate by encouraging the development of alternative technologies like electronic cigarettes. Gottlieb said Thursday on CNBC it is important to maintain access to products for people hooked on nicotine that can help them avoid the large health consequences carried by cigarettes.
Gottlieb outlined the FDA’s new plans for tobacco regulation July 28 in an announcement warmly received by vaping businesses and public health advocates focused on harm reduction, as well as major tobacco companies.
“We’ve opened up a pathway to new product innovations that we think can potentially provide nicotine to people who still want to enjoy satisfying levels of nicotine without the risk of lighting tobacco on fire,” Gottlieb told CNBC Thursday. “It’s not the nicotine that kills you, it’s all the other carcinogens in lighting tobacco on fire.”
Andre Calantzopoulos, the CEO of Philip Morris International, said Tuesday the FDA move is “one of the best articulated positions in many years,” to come out of the agency.
Gottlieb rescheduled the deadline for companies to comply with the FDA’s contentious “deeming rule” from Aug. 8, 2018 to Aug. 8, 2022, giving the vaping industry some much needed breathing room. The FDA “deeming rule” requires businesses to retroactively submit each individual product to the FDA for approval before it can be sold. Businesses will have to file applications for nearly every product they currently sell at a cost of $100,000 to $400,000 each.
The FDA will also attempt to reduce the levels of nicotine allowed in traditional cigarette products as part of their overall tobacco strategy.
Millions of Americans now rely on a vape product, with many using the device to quit smoking or reduce their daily intake of combustible cigarettes. A study from the University of California released July 26 showed that a record number of Americans are ditching cigarettes with the aid of vaping devices.
Researchers found that the rate of Americans quitting smoking jumped from 4.5 percent between 2010 and 2011 to 5.6 percent between 2014 and 2015. That means roughly 350,000 smokers gave up the habit between 2014 and 2015.
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