Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Former FDA Chief Decries 'Public Health Challenge' of Vaping

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Former FDA Chief Decries 'Public Health Challenge' of Vaping

Article excerpt

One day after the Trump administration announced its intention to ban flavored e-cigarettes, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Thursday recalled another notable date:

Aug. 30, 2018.

That was the day the latest National Youth Tobacco Survey landed on his desk at FDA headquarters in Washington, D.C., with some alarming findings.

From 2017 to 2018, the number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes had increased from 2.1 million to 3.6 million in 2018 - a more than 70% increase. And 2014 data showed that 73% of high school students and 56% of middle school students were using flavored tobacco products.

Within a week or so, Mr. Gottlieb and his staff set about addressing what he still describes as "a major public health challenge," he told the audience at the 20th annual Pittsburgh Business Group on Health symposium at the Wyndham Grand in Downtown on Thursday.

"We are in danger of addicting a whole new generation."

While the flavoring that appeals to teens may soon be banished, the convenience store accessibility of cartridges still poses a risk. Those cartridges, easily kept out of sight, can be used to ingest vaporized nicotine or, more alarmingly, counterfeit products laced with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

It is those counterfeit products that are suspected of playing a role in the recent rash of e-cigarette and vaping-related injuries and deaths.

As of Sept. 6, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded more than 450 cases of lung illness - including six deaths - in 33 states that could be linked to e-cigarettes. Officials have recommended people refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping devices until they can conclusively identify a cause.

While no longer head of the federal agency charged with the responsibility of protecting the American public's health, Dr. …

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