FDA Remains Focused on Teen Vaping

Leadership change won’t slow agency’s efforts to curb underage vaping.

April 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – When Scott Gottlieb resigned as head of the Food and Drug Administration, some observers speculated that the agency would ease pressure on e-cigarette makers, such as Juul Labs, but that’s not going to be the case, according to a Bloomberg report.

Ned Sharpless, the FDA’s new acting commissioner, said this week that he’ll maintain the agency’s crackdown on youth vaping “and proceed full-speed ahead.” Sharpless, 52, is the former director of the National Cancer Institute. He took over at the FDA after Gottlieb unexpectedly resigned the post.

“Let me dispel any misconceptions that the change in leadership reflects some desire of the president or the secretary for the FDA to go in a different direction from the Gottlieb era,” Sharpless said.

Secretary Alex Azar of the Health and Human Services agency “and the White House have been very clear with me that they have been impressed with the FDA’s efforts and would like to see this strong progress continue,” he added.

Former FDA head Gottlieb originally attempted to ease regulations on e-cigarette manufacturers but changed course last year after underage uptake of vaping devices rose to what he called “epidemic” levels.

Last month, as reported in NACS Daily, the FDA banned gas stations and convenience stores from selling most flavored e-cigarettes under its new draft guidance. The restrictions are expected to be finalized and implemented over the next few months, meaning that brick-and-mortar retailers will be unable to sell flavored e-cigs other than tobacco, menthol or mint unless minors are restricted from entering the store or if those items are sold in a separate location inside the store that minors may not enter.

Until April 30, the public may submit either electronic or written comments to the agency regarding the ban. Although NACS has submitted comments on behalf of the industry, retailers are urged to share personal stories about how the proposed ban would affect their stores and inform the FDA about the measures stores already take to verify the age of their customers and ensure that they comply with federal laws. NACS encourages members to personalize the template letter that NACS has prepared and upload their comments to regulations.gov no later than Tuesday, April 30.