Insider Q&A: The FDA’s Vaping Representative "promise or danger"

The new head of the Food and Drug Administration did not have a honeymoon. Brian Kingpublic health scientist who is now in charge of regulating the nation’s multi-billion dollar cigarette and vaping industry.

The challenges facing the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products have only increased since King’s arrival in July from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

FDA misses summer deadline to review nearly one million applications for e-cigarettes and other new products that use nicotine produced in a laboratory, some of which have become popular among teenagers. Meanwhile, the agency is still a year behind schedule in reviewing hundreds of thousands of old e-cigarettes that use traditional nicotine from tobacco.

FDA tried to ban it products by leading e-cigarette maker Juul earlier this summer, but he was forced to suspend those efforts afterward subpoena from the company.

Lawmakers in Congress have blasted the FDA for failing to remove Juul e-cigarettes and other e-cigarettes used by minors. Amidst this criticism, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf ordered external inspection tobacco center.

Meanwhile, King and his staff are finalizing the long-awaited plan ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, which disproportionately affect black smokers and youth.

The AP spoke with King about his approach to tobacco and nicotine regulation, including the possibility of using e-cigarettes as a less harmful alternative for adult smokers. It is noteworthy that he brought the so-called nicotine salt technology The Juul was pioneered as a potentially promising tool for smokers, but also warned about its risks for young people. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: The FDA is working on a number of proposals that will fundamentally change the US tobacco landscape, including bans on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. When will they be ready and how will they affect public health?

A: I don’t have a crystal ball in terms of how long it will take, but I think we are well on our way to creating a foundation for a significant reduction in combustible tobacco smoking using product standards that are part of the system. the queue between the menthol cigarette offered by the rule as well as flavored cigars.

At the same time, our product landscape is rapidly diversifying. Especially among young people, I am still very concerned about the use of new products, including e-cigarettes. And when it comes to the youth, the use of tobacco products does not bring any help.

Q: Polls have shown that many adults think e-cigarettes are just as dangerous as traditional cigarettes. Is this a problem?

A: I am fully aware of the misconceptions that exist and are inconsistent with known science. We know that e-cigarettes – as a general class – have a much lower risk than combustible cigarettes. However, I think it is very important that we inform any communication campaigns using science and evidence. This must be very carefully thought out to ensure maximum impact and avoid unintended consequences.

Q: What do you think about the potential of vaping to reduce smoking among adults?

A: I think there’s been a lot of really important science and innovation in the industry in recent years. The most noticeable, in my opinion, are nicotine salts (in electronic cigarettes).

We know that when you smoke a tobacco product, it’s a very effective way to deliver nicotine across the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, it was very difficult to compete with such efficiency in another product. But with nicotine salts, you have the potential to deliver nicotine more efficiently, which could hold promise for public health in terms of providing smokers with enough nicotine to fully transition. But you also have to consider the flip side of the coin, which is the inherent risks of youth initiation. So I’m worried about that.

So there’s a lot going on, and I think that can be a promise or a danger. But I think it’s important that science drives it.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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