FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Scott Gottlieb’s Nicotine Nazism Will Kill Kids, Not Save Them

On November 15, US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced new measures regulating the sale of products that seem to reduce the negative health impacts of nicotine addiction — in the name of protecting children from those health impacts. Oddly, Gottlieb also announced a plan to dramatically increase the availability and variety of flavored cigarettes — in the name of banning them.

First, let’s talk about “vaping.” The jury is still out on long-term health effects of “e-cigarettes” — electronic devices that deliver a hit of nicotine in water vapor, without all the carcinogens found in burning tobacco — but pretty much everyone seems to agree that e-cigarettes are less unhealthy than tobacco cigarettes.

The FDA is demanding that these devices and the “juice” for them be sold only in age-restricted stores where kids aren’t allowed, rather than in convenience stores where getting them is more, um, convenient. Why? Because apparently millions of minors acquire and use them, even though current law already forbids them to do so.

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Gottlieb that those same millions of kids will find various ways to get into those stores, or hector adults to make their purchases for them, just like they’ve always done to get tobacco and alcohol.

But assume for a moment that his plan does make it harder for kids to get “Juul” devices and so forth. What are they going to do? They’re going to settle for the stuff that’s still easily available at those convenience stores: Tobacco. As a practical matter, Gottlieb is pushing for American kids to smoke tobacco cigarettes instead of “vaping” something safer.

The other part of Gottlieb’s plan is to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Again, his excuse is that kids like flavored tobacco more than the plain stuff. Maybe he has a point.

The problem with this part of his scheme is that markets work and entrepreneurs seize opportunities.

If the FDA bans menthol cigarettes, every convenience store in the country will quickly sport attractive displays of little plastic capsules, right next to the newly de-flavored cigarettes, and in packs of 20 just like those cigarettes.

Shove a capsule in the cigarette’s filter, squeeze the filter, voila — menthol cigarette! This isn’t new technology. At least one major brand already packs those little capsules inside its cigarettes right at the factory.

And if a company is going to manufacture menthol capsules for that purpose, why not manufacture vanilla, and grape, mango, and root beer too? In his passion to ban flavored tobacco, Gottlieb will just make it easier than ever to get tobacco in a larger variety of flavors.

Of course, the Food and Drug Administration might decide to regulate those capsules as food or drugs. In which case they’ll just be sold as air fresheners instead. Wink. Nudge.

Does tobacco kill people? Yes, it does. The more relevant question at the moment is why Scott Gottlieb is working overtime to guarantee that it kills more people at younger ages.

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 27, 2020
Jim Kavanagh
Bloomberg’s Game
Kenneth Surin
Trump in Modi’s India
Jonathan Cook
How We Stay Blind to the Story of Power
David Swanson
Bernie Finally Puts a Number on Cutting Military Spending
Nyla Ali Khan
Jammu and Kashmir Cannot be Reduced to Rubble
Aya Majzoub
Return to Bahrain: Nine Years After the Uprisings, the Nation’s Human Rights Record Has Worsened
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange Against the Imperium
Dean Baker
The NYT’s Analysis of Democratic Tax Plans: a Really Big Number Orgy
Lawrence Wittner
Trump Betrays His Promise to Protect and Fight for American Workers
George Wuerthner
Wilderness Preservation is Our Best Protection Against Wildfires
Brian Horejsi
Dancing Bears Weren’t Having Fun
Jesse Jackson
The Important Word in “Democratic Socialism” is Democratic
John Stanton
Democratic Socialism: From Fromm to Sanders
February 26, 2020
Matthew Hoh
Heaven Protect Us From Men Who Live the Illusion of Danger: Pete Buttigieg and the US Military
Jefferson Morley
How the US Intelligence Community is Interfering in the 2020 Elections
Patrick Cockburn
With Wikileaks, Julian Assange Did What All Journalists Should Do
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change and Voting 2020
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Russiagate: The Toxic Gift That Keeps on Giving
Andrew Bacevich
Going Off-Script in the Age of Trump
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Anti-Russian Xenophobia Reaches Ridiculous Levels
Ted Rall
Don’t Worry, Centrists. Bernie Isn’t Radical.
George Wuerthner
Whatever Happened to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition?
Scott Tucker
Democratic Socialism in the Twenty-First Century
Jonah Raskin
The Call of the Wild (2020): A Cinematic Fairy Tale for the Age of Environmental Disaster
George Ochenski
Why We Shouldn’t Run Government Like a Business
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Imperium’s Face: Day One of the Extradition Hearings
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s Extradition Hearing Reveals Trump’s War on Free Press Is Targeting WikiLeaks Publisher
Peter Harrison
Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon? (Part Two)
Max Moran
Meet Brad Karp, the Top Lawyer Bankrolling the Democrats
David Swanson
Nonviolent Action for Peace
Ed Sanders
The Ex-Terr GooGoo Eyes “The Russkies Did it!” Plot
February 25, 2020
Michael Hudson
The Democrats’ Quandary: In a Struggle Between Oligarchy and Democracy, Something Must Give
Paul Street
The “Liberal” Media’s Propaganda War on Bernie Sanders
Sheldon Richman
The Non-Intervention Principle
Nicholas Levis
The Real Meaning of Red Scare 3.0
John Feffer
Cleaning Up Trump’s Global Mess
David Swanson
How Are We Going to Pay for Saving Trillions of Dollars?
Ralph Nader
Three Major News Stories That Need To Be Exposed
John Eskow
What Will You Do If the Democrats Steal It from Sanders?
Dean Baker
What If Buttigieg Said That He Doesn’t Accept the “Fashionable” View That Climate Change is a Problem?
Jack Rasmus
The Nevada Caucus and the Desperation of Democrat Elites
Howard Lisnoff
The Powerful Are Going After Jane Fonda Again
Binoy Kampmark
Viral Losses: Australian Universities, Coronavirus and Greed
John W. Whitehead
Gun-Toting Cops Endanger Students and Turn Schools into Prisons
Marshall Sahlins
David Brooks, Public Intellectual
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail