FDA Rethinks Nicotine & Tobacco, A New Future for E-Cigarettes

Friday, 28th July, 2017 – Scott Gottlieb, M.D., the Commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has just published an official announcement on the FDA’s recent significant pivot in views towards nicotine and tobacco. The article can be read full at: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Speeches/ucm569024.htm

“As a physician who cared for hospitalized cancer patients, and as a cancer survivor myself, I saw first-hand the impact of tobacco.  And I know all too well that it’s cigarettes that are the primary cause of tobacco-related disease and death.  What’s now clear is that FDA is at a unique moment in history, with profound new tools to address this devastating impact.”

“Reframing shared objectives around the need to rethink nicotine is a start.  It could help all of us achieve the one public health goal I know we all share, and that’s to save the lives of current and future cigarette smokers.”

“But the most substantial new undertaking is the one aimed at nicotine, and to start, an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to explore how we could reduce nicotine in combustible cigarettes. Looking at ways to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes so that they are minimally or non-addictive, while not altering the nicotine content of noncombustible products such as e-cigarettes, is a cornerstone of our new and more comprehensive approach to effective tobacco regulation.  And Congress has made clear that FDA has this authority.  As I see it, taking the next step and addressing nicotine is not just within our authority; it’s an enormous public health opportunity and falls squarely within FDA’s mission.

A New Future for Smokers

This is a major moment in which e-cigarettes, electronic cigarettes or vaping products as ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems) have been formally referenced on a reasonably bright note by the FDA since the popularization of vaping. In fact, it hints at a new future where they seek to replace tobacco cigarette smoking.

In a world where smokers have to stop burning tobacco for inhalation or smoking combustible cigarettes, what role will electronic cigarettes or vape technologies play? With the technological advancements and access to knowledge that the world is abundantly filled with today, how will smokers choose?

If electronic cigarettes and vaping devices are able to provide smokers with an experience that is equal to if not far more satisfying than smoking, and is at least 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes – what could possibly be in the way of all smokers opting for e-cigarette and vape products in the future?

The U.K. government has already taken that first step to this future: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/18/let-workers-vape-office-government-plan-suggests/

Health officials said it was down to individual organisations to choose their own policies, but highlighted Public Health England guidance which stresses that laws banning smoking in the workplace and enclosed public spaces do not cover e-cigarettes.”

“The Tobacco Control Plan pledges to “maximize the availability of safer alternatives to smoking” and to support smokers turning to nicotine substitutes.”

“Only by everyone pulling together can we hope to end the loss of life and suffering smoking has wreaked for far too long. Public Health England will do everything possible to make this happen.”

“The evidence is increasingly clear that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco,” the plan notes. “The government will seek to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products.”

Now, the FDA has taken that step too.