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In late July, the Food & Drug Administration announced a major policy shift as to how it will regulate tobacco, and for the first time, publicly unveiled that it is actively pursuing safer alternatives for delivering nicotine to those who want or need it. It’s a stunning reminder just how much public perception continues to support the ever-growing concern surrounding tobacco. Yet more remarkable are the steps the FDA now deems necessary in combating the undeniable severity and consequences due to its use.
“The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes – the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “Unless we change course, 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use. Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts – and we believe it’s vital that we pursue this common ground.”
The timing of it’s release, which aims to help maximize the implementation of Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act surely caught the attention of the vaping industry, already abuzz from England introducing its Tobacco Control Plan titled Towards A Smoke-Free Generation barely two weeks ago. Not surprising are how similar these proposals mirror each other. Both target the reduction, prevention and ultimate elimination of tobacco use among younger generations, and both have acknowledge electronic cigarettes as a safer nicotine delivery option.
"Nicotine itself is not responsible for the cancer, the lung disease and heart disease that kill hundreds of thousands of Americans each year," Gottlieb continued. "It's the other chemical compounds in tobacco and in the smoke created by setting tobacco on fire that directly cause illness and death."
No stranger to the industry, Gottlieb, a cancer survivor himself, once held a stake in a vape shop, eloquently named Kure, and during a nomination hearing for the opportunity to head the FDA, he mentioned the potential e-cigarettes have in helping smokers quit traditional tobacco altogether. As the agency’s new commissioner, who was confirmed by the United States Senate in May, Dr. Gottlieb clearly has his sights set on reducing the devastating health and financial impact of smoking combustible cigarettes.
Responsible for over 480,000 deaths annually, tobacco smoked in the form of cigarettes also carries an enormous financial liability. With regards to productivity and healthcare costs, tobacco is also accountable for more than $300 billion in losses per year. Combined with the overwhelming number of fatalities, the unsustainable practice of smoking tobacco as a means of nicotine delivery seems destined in succumbing to a better, safer and less expensive alternative, namely vaping.
The change in tone towards the vape industry has been a welcoming sign, mainly one of acceptance and opportunity. And though many legal challenges remain, knowing the United States Government sees a need to turn the page on tobacco furthers the quest for e-cigarettes and vaping at large to go from a potential nicotine delivery substitution to a legitimate one now and for the future.