In a recent interview with Associated Press News, Brian King, the newly-appointed Director of the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), has finally admitted that vaping is a healthier alternative to traditional smoking.
This has come after a period of long-standing issues between the agency and vaping advocates, due to continuous prohibitionist-style regulations being enforced, and the spreading of misinformation.
The CTP is the Food & Drug Administration’s tobacco division, which focuses on all things involving tobacco products, including vapes and other e-cigarette products.
This statement, which can hardly be considered new information, potentially represents one of two things.
The FDA is beginning to accept vapes and e-cigarettes as tobacco harm reduction (THR) tools, or more likely, the agency and King do not know what they are doing amidst waves of external pressure.
Why Is King’s Statement Important?
The main issue many have with King’s statement is his history as a regulator. King has had several incidents where he has willfully allowed misinformation to overshadow scientific fact, for whatever his reasoning may be.
Despite this, he is often found saying scientific evidence needs to prevail before any credit is given to vaping.
Just like in the EVALI case, King allowed misinformation to be spread to the public eye – willfully or not. This was further worsened by the fact that there were never any follow-up attempts to get the correct information out, particularly as it would go against King’s own motives.
The same can be seen here again with this latest admission.
“I’m fully aware of the misperceptions that are out there and aren’t consistent with the known science. We do know e-cigarettes – as a general class – have markedly less risk than a combustible cigarette product.,” King stated in a recent interview.
“That said, I think it’s very critical that we inform any communication campaigns using science and evidence. It has to be very carefully thought out to ensure that we’re maximizing impact and avoiding unintended consequences,” he continued.
With a history of obfuscation, it is fair to wonder if King has always held the understanding that vaping is healthier than cigarettes, all while discrediting the benefits of vapes and e-cigarettes over the past few years.
King remained extremely quiet during the first weeks of his new appointment. However, with both of the times he has spoken out, he has only discredited the FDA and their “work” against vaping.
The FDA’s Long Fight Against Vaping
While King may have only recently joined the FDA, the agency has clearly been going against vaping for many years now. Be it as a result of the Trump or Biden administrations, the regulators have attempted to restrict the industry to the point of prohibition.
This is what makes King’s latest statement so poignant – a director at the agency that has vehemently fought to all but outlaw vapes, agrees that these devices have the power to save people from the known risks of traditional combustible tobacco products.
One of the most significant aspects of the premarket tobacco application (PMTA) process is the FDA’s blatant inability to produce the results that they had originally promised.
The FDA has also demonstrated a seeming unwillingness to admit the benefit of vapes outright. While a cautious approach is appreciated by such a powerful regulator, there needs to be a clear direction.
“Many studies suggest e-cigarettes and noncombustible tobacco products may be less harmful than combustible cigarettes,” reads the FDA’s main page on e-cigarettes. “However, there is not yet enough evidence to support claims that e-cigarettes and other ENDS [Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems] are effective tools for quitting smoking.”
Should the CTP not be pursuing this evidence to properly determine an answer that could help millions instead of banning potentially helpful products? With leadership like King’s, it is unlikely that will ever happen.
Brian King as Director of the CTP
It is clear that the FDA has already demonstrated questionable reasoning behind its actions. In this instance alone, it is fair to question why the agency is so determined to strike most vaping products from the market despite the knowledge that these are useful tools.
This brings up another important question, one that has been asked by many since the news of King’s appointment as Director of CTP.
Is King fit for the role?
The CTP needs strong leadership now if they are to overcome the mounting external pressures with any form of integrity and fairness. This is only more true as these pressures only continue to mount.
Having a person that can appreciate the potential benefits of vaping in one breath, yet in another breath can allow the public to be misled in a directorial position, helps no one but those in control.
King’s EVALI Debacle
The first time he demonstrated his willingness to skew the truth was the EVALI study, wherein an outbreak of lung injuries was credited to vaping as a whole.
What King and the study left out is that these injuries were limited almost entirely to black-market THC vapes, with the unique ingredients found within being the cause of the injury.
This single instance, which is largely a direct result of King’s actions, has had a hugely negative effect on the public perception of vaping.
After years of brandishing misinformation and pseudo-science, Dr. Brian King has openly admitted that vaping is safer than traditional combustible cigarettes.
The Director of the Center for Tobacco Products has remained relatively silent since his appointment to the position, but a recent interview with AP News has left many wondering what his agenda is going forward in the position.
Will he continue to willingly allow misinformation to spread while continuing the agency’s prohibitionist tactics, or will he pursue the known science for the betterment of tobacco harm reduction?