Earlier this year, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that the FDA would reevaluate and reorient its tobacco policies. Recognizing that the primary health threat from tobacco products comes not from nicotine, but from combustion, Gottlieb noted the role that “less harmful tobacco products” could play in reducing the death toll from cigarettes. He elaborated on the FDA’s new approach in an article New England Journal of Medicine.
Gottlieb’s comments were welcome — yet more is needed. Even with recently announced reforms, the FDA’s regulation of cigarette alternatives, such as electronic cigarettes, threatens to do more to harm than to help public health. It is likely unconstitutional to boot.