Departing FDA chief says youth vaping crackdown will continue

Outgoing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said his departure won't have any impact on the agency's crackdown on youth vaping. 

"I'm very confident of that, and I'm very confident that we're going to continue with this policy over the next month, including the policy that we've been formulating," Gottlieb said during an event hosted by The Hill Wednesday. 

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Gottlieb has proposed limiting the sales of most flavored e-cigarettes to age-restricted, in-person locations, effectively ending sales at gas stations and convenience stores.

"I think there is widespread recognition that this is a major public health crisis. I think for the vaping community and the tobacco industry this is an existential threat," he said. 

"I don't think they fully appreciate what they're facing and the tsunami that they're facing if we don't get this under control."

There was a 78 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students from 2017 to 2018, and a 48 percent increase among middle school students, according to FDA data. 

But his initiatives have sparked pushback from conservatives, who argue the changes would make it harder for adults who are trying to quit smoking to get e-cigarettes as an alternative.

Gottlieb pushed back on that Wednesday. 

"I think the arguments that the folks who are advocating a completely laissez-faire hands-off approach with respect to vaping don't hold true," he said.

"We're catching the beginning of an epidemic." 
 
He said data shows that kids who vape occasionally become regular users, and it's important to stop that before it happens. 

Gottlieb announced Tuesday he was resigning after nearly two years on the job to spend more time with his family, which lives in Connecticut, noting that if he could go back, he would have moved them to Washington. 

He has three young children. 
 
He has a reputation for being able to work with members of both parties and was one of the most-liked members of the Trump administration. 

Democrats praised Gottlieb after his announcement and urged the administration to continue his work. 
 
"We did not see eye-to-eye on every issue, but his leadership guiding FDA’s work on food recall transparency, implementing menu labeling and addressing the youth vaping epidemic is commendable," said Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroWatchdog: DeVos used personal emails for work in 'limited' cases Press: Who will be the first conservative to take on Trump? A good week for the nation's family planning program MORE (D-Conn.).
 
"He made a positive impact on people’s lives through his work, and I hope those initiatives continue at FDA moving forward.”