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Tobacco and E-Cigarette Lobbyists Circle as F.D.A. Chief Exits

May 21, 2019 by freemexy  

Dr. Scott Gottlieb became commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in 2017 with an ambitious plan to reduce cigarette smoking, a habit that kills nearly half a million Americans each year, by shifting smokers to less harmful alternatives like Electronic Cigarette.

But he was quickly embroiled in an unexpected crisis: the explosion of vaping among millions of middle and high school students, many of whom were getting addicted to nicotine.

Dr. Gottlieb will depart at the end of this month, following his sudden announcement last week that he would resign, with his plans to toughen regulation of both vaping and smoking unfinished and powerful lobbying forces quietly celebrating the exit of a politically canny administrator who aggressively wielded his regulatory powers.

Opponents are already swooping in, making their case to Congress and reaching out to the White House. A coalition of conservative organizations that oppose government intervention in the marketplace has harshly criticized Dr. Gottlieb’s crackdown on e-cigarettes. Retailers, including convenience store and gas station owners, are on Capitol Hill lobbying against guidelines Dr. voopoo drag nano pod Gottlieb proposed on Wednesday to restrict sales of most flavored e-cigarettes to separate adult-only areas and to require age verification of customers.
And major tobacco companies are likely to seize on his departure to try to scuttle his long-term plans to lower nicotine levels in cigarettes to nonaddictive levels and to ban menthol cigarettes, which make up more than a third of the cigarette market and dominate sales to African-Americans. Some longtime officials inside the F.D.A. said privately that they fear these ideas could be delayed indefinitely.

“There have been well-intentioned commissioners before Gottlieb,” said Jonathan Havens, a former F.D.A. tobacco lawyer now in private practice. “But they were not as good at capturing the attention of the nation, of the stakeholders. I think that momentum could very well stall on some of these products, or be lost completely.”

This pivotal moment in regulation of smoking and vaping comes just months after Altria, maker of Marlboro cigarettes and the nation’s largest tobacco company, with a market value of $100 billion, bought a 35 percent stake in Juul, the nation’s dominant vaping company whose valuation soared on the investment to $38 billion.

Juul’s alliance with Altria has given it access to a far more muscular, experienced political player. Altria gave $500,000 to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee, and spent more than $10 million on lobbying last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

 

Dr. Gottlieb has expressed anger that Juul and Altria were negotiating their financial deal in secret, while each was making promises to the F.D.A. that he believes the deal broke. The investment in Juul means that Altria, with net sales of cigarettes and other products last year amounting to $25.4 billion, is now selling flavored e-cigarettes, which it had told the F.D.A. it would stop doing, he said.u2022eney7485yyWEEEEDD