On February 24, 2023 I was fortunate to be a part of the American Vapor Manufacturers webinar with the fairly new CTP Director Dr. Brian King. Here is a summary of what we spoke about during this first ever meeting with our industry.
My main and most important take away from this webinar was Dr. King admitting that there is NO youth epidemic.
My question to Dr. King regarding their use of the word epidemic, “CTP has been describing teen vaping as an epidemic since 2018. A word that was chosen using focus groups to heighten the emotional reaction. But since then, teen vaping has plummeted, and today less than 3% of teen’s vape daily, that’s not what the word epidemic means. Not clinically, not scientifically, and not in common sense. So how do you expect to be taken seriously by the public as a scientific agency when you continue to use a flatly erroneous term like that?”
Dr. King responded “Yeah, so I believe you are speaking about the CDC, and FDA has not used that terminology to use the most recent estimates of youth use. I will say, um, that I am an epidemiologist by training. So I am fully cognizant of the definition of an epidemic, um, which is unprecedented, increases over what you’d expected baseline. That said, I think, and know that the science has shown a decline in the number of youth users, and, and that’s a good thing. Over the past couple years, we have seen declines since the peak in 2019, it’s still too high. We’ve got two and a half million kids that are still using these products. And based on what we’re seeing with other products among kids, including cigarettes and smokeless and others, we, we can achieve those low levels as well, you know, below 2%, you know, one per 2%.”
While we agree that there is no epidemic we also note that the FDA has used the word epidemic as recently as 2021, before Dr. King started with the FDA.
Perhaps the most significant statement to come out of the discussion: King said the decline in teen vaping will make it easier for FDA to approve vaping products for adult use.
King of course dodged a lot of our questions and reverted back to the youth issue and insufficient science with PMTA applications yet did not give us a lot of clarity on why Logic’s tobacco product has an approval or MGO and received a denial or MDO on their exact same product in Menthol.
Gregory Conley asked “documents released as part of a recent lawsuit show that you overruled the Office of Science in order to deny marketing authorizations to logics menthol vaping, menthol flavored vaping products. Is it common practice at CTP for leadership to overrule the scientific experts within the agency?
To which King replied “Yeah, so I’ll say that that is an erroneous description of what occurred. It was not an overrule. We have a formative process at the Center for Tobacco Products where scientists within the Office of Science evaluate specific applications. And they then make determinations based on that science and iterate with directors. Office of Science is also the director of the Center for Tobacco Products. And in this case, um, there was an initial assessment of that science and then there was further scientific discussion. And I am a scientist by training. I have been for many, many years. And we sat down and discussed the, the merits of the available science that was presented. And after the discussion of that, science and those merits, the determination was made that the applicant did not meet the standard.”
And while King acknowledged the fact that people quitting with e-cigarettes is a “good thing” he did not seem to see that shutting down vape shops by denying 99.99% of applications will not help more smokers transition.
I appreciate Dr. King taking the time to sit down with us and I hope he continues to do so in the future, while we all agree that youth should not use these products it is important to speak with the advocates and consumers that these decisions impact.