Once Considered Pro-cigar, Scott Gottlieb out as FDA Czar
Once considered to have the back of the premium cigar industry, Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced shortly after the first of the year he was stepping down as FDA commissioner. Leaving office in April, Gottlieb was nominated by President Trump in 2017 and many, including many small artisan cigar makers, were confidant that with Gottlieb sitting in the big chair, at least the hope of a compromise could be struck with regard to FDA’s new harsh deeming rules and the resulting regulations that could cripple premium cigars.
Depending on your particular view, Dr. Gottlieb has been both praised and vilified for his push to reel in the exploding flavored e-cigarettes and vaping market, which is believed by many in the cigars cosmos to have again drawn unwanted attention to the regulation of cigars. There is a commensurate and genuine concern for creating a culture that targets young adults, and especially minors, to nicotine-based products. This has been viewed as the argument since day one.
While the evidence is compelling for a need to protect our youth, it begins to dive sharply in logic and scope when premium cigars are considered. Dr. Gottlieb was largely viewed as a potential ally to the premium cigar industry, even penning a pro-cigar/anti-regulation op ed published in the New York Post in August 2012.
Unfortunately, his heavy handed campaign against vaping and flavored e-cigarettes may have unintended consequences that will now be left to his successor. Once again, the FDA is left in flux, opening the door for a new administration to determine the fate of premium cigars. If history is any guide, there may be many more potholes on this ride to exemption. – In Fumo Pax!