Officially, Gottlieb attributed his sudden resignation to “time away from his family” and the long commute between Washington, D.C. and his family’s home in Westport, CT. He noted that he didn’t step down earlier due to the timing of the government shutdown.
However, the New York Times reported that insiders question whether his resignation had more to do with his ardor in reducing teenage vaping and banning menthol in cigarettes.
What does menthol cigarettes have to do with this?
Gottlieb’s stance on menthol cigarettes has long drawn the ire of the Republican Senators representing North Carolina, the heart of the tobacco belt. Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis were leading the charge against Gottlieb’s plan to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes and cigars citing that it would deprive consumers and cost states billions in tax revenue.
What does vaping have to do with this?
On the surface, not much. The liquid in used in vaping contains nicotine that is not tobacco, but rather a synthesized product. In theory, restrictions on vaping should not affect tobacco production and sales which is why Sen. Tillis said that he applauds “the FDA’s commitment to developing a robust plan to combat underage use of e-vapor products”.