As a physician who treats patients devastated by tobacco-caused lung disease, I was concerned by the Aug. 5 editorial “Breaking nicotine’s grip,” which embraced Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s plan for regulating tobacco products. The commissioner seems unconcerned about switching one form of nicotine addiction with another. Nicotine in any form is bad for your health, adversely affecting neurological and cardiovascular systems and reproductive health. Evidence shows that nicotine can be a gateway drug. Flavoring agents and other chemicals in e-cigarettes, when vaporized, are harmful.
Mr. Gottlieb appears willing to risk future generations of young people to nicotine addiction by granting Big Tobacco free rein to hook children on e-cigarettes and cigars. By going easy on the e-cigarette and cigar makers — giving them at least a four-year hiatus from new product applications and action on flavors and potentially exempting “premium” cigars — Mr. Gottlieb is effectively greenlighting continued peddling of addiction to youth.
The FDA’s job is to protect youths from all types of tobacco and nicotine addiction, not to negotiate which types of nicotine addiction it will allow.
Enid R. Neptune, Baltimore
The writer is vice chair of the American Thoracic Society’s Tobacco Action Committee.