WASHINGTON -- President Trump’s nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chimed in on the electronic-cigarette debate, but held off judgement on one of the product’s most disputed elements: flavor bans.
In his confirmation hearing, Dr. Scott Gottlieb declined to commit to a ban on flavored cigarettes even when confronted with the potential that flavors could lure adolescents into experimentation, according to The Hill.
Naming e-cigarette flavors while questioning Gottlieb, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., asked, “Gummy bears? Cookies and cream?”
“I recognize there is a line here somewhere,” Gottlieb said, “and I don’t know where that line gets drawn. I think that line needs to get drawn by people who are experts in evaluating that science, and I want to support that.”
Interpreting the senator’s line of questioning, Gottlieb said questions persist around when e-cigarettes could help transition people off of combustible cigarettes and when they might be a gateway to adolescent smoking.
“I think a properly constructed and overseen regulatory process should have the capacity under the authorities Congress gave the agency to make these determinations,” he said.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Washington, D.C., has called on Gottlieb to recuse himself from all decisions involving e-cigarettes, given his financial stake in Kure, a vape-store franchiser based in Charlotte, N.C.
Gottlieb has promised to divest his financial interest in Kure and recuse himself from any particular matter involving the company for one year, but the advocacy group said that’s not enough, The Hill reported.
As FDA commissioner, Gottlieb would oversee an agency that regulates not just pharmaceuticals but tobacco, medical devices, food safety, cosmetics and other areas of human and animal health.