For those of you familiar with our five-year, frustrated effort to work with the FDA about enforcement against underage nicotine sales, including even a strongly worded letter from the unique pairing of Senators Mitch McConnell and Tim Kaine, it comes as no real surprise that the nicotine industry has deep reach into the agency.
The departure of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) second in command for an immediate job with Phillip Morris gives a more public perspective of the actual function of this powerful body, one that has oversight of the production, marketing and sales of all nicotine and tobacco products.
What many had believed to be mere bureaucratic ineptitude, fear of litigation and governmental foot-dragging that rendered the Agency so incredibly ineffective in controlling the epidemic of adolescent nicotine addiction, now takes on a more sinister aspect.
Matt Holman, the departing official, was largely responsible for pushing the industry’s debunked “harm reduction” narrative in support of continued sale of e-cigarettes and similar products. Not only did the agency sit idly by while millions of American kids habituated to vaping, it even gave an FDA stamp of approval over several products of dubious value.
Yesterday’s New York Times article offers several insights. Best of all is our board member, Micah Berman’s quote that was so spot-on that I simultaneously grimaced and chortled so loudly that it disturbed my son sleeping in the next room.
“It is embarrassing for the F.D.A., which sees itself as a public health agency, to have its employees go to a company that is a leading manufacturer of death,” said Micah Berman, an associate professor of public health and law at Ohio State University.
A more in-depth discussion of the history of the FDA’s flawed evaluations of e-cigarettes and “heat-not-burn” products is in yesterday’s excellent blog post by Stan Glantz.
An appropriate latin corruption: illegitimi non carborundum,
Rob Crane, MD
Board President, Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation
July 28, 2022