Celebrating our 10th anniversary – Unlock our special offer today

Scott Gottlieb, frequent critic of vaping, resigns from FDA

Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and vocal critic of e-cigarettes, has resigned.

On Twitter he said that leading the FDA had “been a wonderful journey and parting is very hard”. He will leave in about a month to spend more time with his family, he said in an interview reported by The Washington Post.

Both president Trump and secretary of health and human services Alex Azar paid tribute to Gottlieb’s leadership of the FDA on social media.

Gottlieb, 46, has led the FDA since 2017. A medical doctor by training, he had previously worked for the agency in lesser roles as well as holding positions in academia and venture capital.

At the FDA he has been an active leader in a number of areas, developing the agency’s response to opioid abuse and introducing measures to streamline the process for drug approvals.

But he has also become an outspoken opponent of vaping, particularly in recent months, characterising the use of e-cigs by youth as an “epidemic” and “tragedy”.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Join in to hear about news, events, and podcasts in the sector

    See more

    Although the agency has remained nominally committed to the concept of a continuum of risk in nicotine products, Gottlieb has seemed to pay increasingly token lip service to e-cigs’ potential for adult smoking cessation.

    Among other measures, he has threatened to heavily restrict the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes, a proposal which is understood to be currently under examination by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

    He has also directly questioned the actions of major players in the sector such as Altria and Juul Labs, and stepped up action against retailers who sell to minors.

    Gottlieb has also guided policy in other tobacco-related areas, albeit with less vehemence than in the vaping field. One of his first actions as commissioner was to identify nicotine itself as a key element in the FDA’s tobacco-control strategy, and in 2018 that led to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) – a first step toward possibly mandating a dramatic reduction in cigarette nicotine levels.

    More recently Gottlieb has also pushed nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) forward on the agenda, suggesting that new forms of NRT could be developed, possibly including medically licensed e-cigarettes.

    No successor has yet been named. Gottlieb’s most senior deputy is principal deputy commissioner Amy Abernethy, who only joined the FDA last month.

    – ECigIntelligence staff

    Barnaby Page

    Editorial director
    Before joining ECigIntelligence in early 2014 as one of its first employees, Barnaby had a 30-year career as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and online services, working in Canada, the US and the Middle East as well as his current British location. He has edited publications covering fields including technology and the advertising industry, and was launch editor of the first large daily online news service in the British regional media. Barnaby also writes on classical music and film for a number of publications. Barnaby manages the editorial and reporting teams and works closely with the analyst teams, to ensure that all content meets high standards of quality and relevance. He also writes for the site occasionally, mostly on science-related issues, and is a member of the Association of British Science Writers.

    Our Key Benefits

    The global e-cigarette market is in an opaque regulatory environment that requires professionals to be on top of industry developments to make informed decisions and optimise their strategy.

    ECigIntelligence provides organisations with leading market and regulatory data analysis to anticipate and understand market developments globally and the impact of regulatory changes to the business.

    • Stay informed of any legal and market change in the sector that impacts your organisation
    • Maximise resources by getting market and legal data analysis daily in one place
    • Make smart decisions by understanding how the regulatory and market landscape evolves
    • Anticipate risks in your decisions by monitoring regulatory changes that impact your organization