King misses the chance to engage with harm reduction advocates at GTNF

Washington DC was buzzing with hopeful advocates, regulators, officials and industry investors to discuss all things nicotine last week at The Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum (GTNF). 

The main focus for many attendees was the presentation scheduled for Brian A. King, the director of the US FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. Most advocates in attendance relished the thought of being able to ask King some important questions that they have been waiting for answers to since he took this position in July.

King started off by mentioning that he takes his job very seriously when it comes to ending tobacco related harm and deaths. He went on to say that as a regulator they look at the “net public health benefit vs. risk.” Yet provided no indication of how he will protect youth AND adults or plans for a pathway forward for these adults that can no longer access these denied products they depend on.

In true FDA fashion King went on about youth use, and of course, he did not forget to pat himself and the agency on the back for the rapid rate that these 6.7 million applications were processed. King even went as far as to almost brag about the amount of denials issued and the 23 products approved by the agency. Never did he mention that most of these approvals are for products that are outdated, no longer in production and rarely used by adults.  

Shockingly he did admit that e-cigarettes pose less risk than combustible cigarettes but seems to have no plans to correct the misinformation coming from the FDA. 

Unfortunately for the advocates patiently waiting for the Q&A portion of King’s presentation he ran out of time and quickly exited the building.  To add insult to injury King closed his speech by saying he had to go because he had a meeting with “one of our favorite Senators.”  King was clearly referring to the meeting he had with Senator Dick Durbin later that day

I feel this was a missed opportunity for King to finally engage with the adults and advocates that use and depend on these products. 

I guess the “armchair regulators” as he so kindly referred to us as in his presentation, will have to return to the only avenue left for us to voice our opinions on these important issues we still have no answers to. 



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