Apr. 5 2017
WASHINGTON, DC – According to his financial disclosure documents, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the nominee for commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, has held financial interests in Kure, a vape store franchiser that both sells electronic cigarette products and promotes “vaping” lounges that the company says will "bring the passionate art of vaping to the everyday consumer." The documents state that Dr. Gottlieb held a position with the company until May 2016 and has a current financial interest in the company.
Dr. Gottlieb stated that he will recuse himself from “any particular matter” involving Kure for one year from May 2016, when he resigned his position with the company. However, since all e-cigarette interests will be impacted by how FDA implements its 2016 rule asserting jurisdiction over e-cigarettes (called the deeming rule), it is our assumption that he will recuse himself from all matters related to e-cigarettes going forward.
While proponents of e-cigarettes have argued that they can benefit public health by helping smokers quit regular cigarettes, Kure presents e-cigarettes as a recreational product. The company’s website states that “the [vaping] hobby is far more than a way for ex-smokers to buck a nasty habit. It has become a way to relax, enjoy and socialize – it’s a cultural movement that is being led by Millennials, and in many ways it has nothing to do with smoking.” In addition, Kure states that its products are available in “over 90,000 e-juice flavor combinations,” including flavors such as “Chewy the Bear” (described as “tastes like gummy bears – YAY!”), “Kotton Kandy” and “Kandy Kane.”
Research has found that flavors and marketing tactics like these are why large numbers of youth and young adults are using e-cigarettes. A 2016 Surgeon General report on e-cigarettes concluded that “e-cigarette use among U.S. youth and young adults is now a major public health concern.” The Surgeon General found that youth use of nicotine in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe, can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain. The FDA should be doing everything it can to prevent kids from using these products.