Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), has just announced his resignation after less than two years on the job.
According to the New York Times, Gottlieb resigned partially due to the absence from his family, who remained at their home in Westport, Connecticut, several hundred miles from Washington. However, his resignation may also be due to the fact that his insistence on regulating youth vaping angered the tobacco industry.
In a 2017 speech to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Scott Gottlieb spoke about how he felt he needed to do more to regulate teen use of tobacco products, citing statistics that showed that people are less likely to take up smoking if they make it to age 26 without picking up the habit.
“[T]een use of cigarettes is down, but their overall use of tobacco products has remained largely the same due to increases in the use of e-cigarettes, other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), hookah and cigars,” Gottlieb said. “As regulators tasked with protecting the public health, I felt we needed to do more.”
In 2018, Gottlieb rolled out new FDA regulations that would impose penalties on anyone who sells vape pens to teenagers. He told NPR that the tobacco industry had adapted beyond cigarettes to make nicotine palatable to kids in the form of flavored JUUL pods.
“You know, you have to remember with these products, you’re still delivering a vapor into the lungs. There’s still the potential for toxins in these vapors,” Gottlieb told NPR’s Rachel Martin in May of 2018. “I’m a parent of young kids. And I talk to parents who have kids, who they’re worried their kids are using these products. And I think there is a view that among some – and it’s anecdotal – that people feel, well, at least my child’s not smoking.”
“And what I would say to that parent is no kid should be using any nicotine-related product. Nicotine’s not a completely benign substance. It’s addictive. It rewires the adolescent brain,” he added. “And I think that they need to be equally vigilant, whether it’s an e-cigarette that their child might be using or a cigar or a combustible cigarette. No child should be using any tobacco product.”
According to this spreadsheet from Reddit user Adrienne Cobb, who has been painstakingly documenting the departure of every Trump administration official who has either resigned or been fired since January of 2017 (when President Trump was sworn in), Scott Gottlieb is the 413th administration official to leave the White House.
In addition to Gottlieb, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has also indicated he plans to leave his position following the end of Trump’s term in 2021.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.