The good news is, that the announcement points out that smoking has been reduced by half since 2011, from 15.8 percent to 8.0 percent, in what an article on the RStreet website has called “a remarkable and previously unanticipated public health victory.”
The not so positive part, is that although reliable studies from all corners of the world keep emerging and attributing the decrease in smoking patterns to non-pharmaceutical nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes and snus, there was no mention of this in the FDA statement.
On the contrary, Gottlieb commended the FDA for being stringent with e-cigarette sellers. “Another pillar of our efforts is to make sure retailers understand and take seriously their responsibility of keeping harmful and addictive tobacco products out of the hands of children. In particular, the FDA has issued more than 4,000 warning letters to brick and mortar and online retailers for selling e-cigarettes, cigars, or hookah tobacco to minors since new youth access restrictions went into effect in August 2016,” read the statement.
All facts should be made public
On the other hand, the FDA leader attributed most of the success to a federally sponsored program that has only been in place for the last three years. “In fact, “The Real Cost” campaign has already helped prevent nearly 350,000 kids from smoking cigarettes since it launched in 2014.”
The article on RStreet rightly points out that if there is actual evidence of the direct link between this decrease in smoking and the campaign, it should be made public. Yet, whether this is the case or not, the role that vaping products may have played whether large or small should not be dismissed, especially when studies keep confirming that there is indeed a very strong correlation between the harm reduction alternatives and the decrease in smoking.
Is Gottlieb set to disappoint?
Many anti-smoking health experts were hopeful that Gottlieb would change the FDA’s harsh stance pertaining to vaping products, and although certain positive measures have indeed been taken, this “limited” announcement will certainly not go down well. Just last week a PATH study which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Tobacco Products, suggested once again that most vapers are ex-smokers, and that e-cigarettes are less addictive than their combustible counterparts.