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January 19, 2023

AVM Will Hold Public Q&A Session with FDA's Brian King

FDA Center for Tobacco Products Director Brian King will, for the first time, participate in a public conversation about vaping and harm reduction next month. The virtual event will be moderated by American Vapor Manufacturers Association (AVM) legislative director Gregory Conley and newly-named AVM vice president Allison Boughner.

“The Future of Vaping in the US: A Conversation with FDA’s Dr. Brian King” will be held on Feb. 24 at 1:00 p.m. EST, and is open to the public. Participants must register in advance, and AVM has provided an opportunity to submit questions for King.

Brian King’s anti-vaping history

King, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) employee, was named by FDA Commissioner Robert Califf to succeed longtime CTP director Mitch Zeller last July. Since his appointment, King has spoken at one tobacco event, but has not engaged publicly with representatives of the independent vaping industry or vaping consumers.

Since receiving a doctorate in epidemiology from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2010, until he was named CTP director by Califf, King had worked only for the CDC. He advanced within the CDC Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) from Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer to Senior Scientific Advisor, and then in 2015 to his final CDC job as Deputy Director for Research Translation at OSH.

Although King had no regulatory or management experience to qualify him for the FDA job, he did have a history of antagonism toward vaping, including frequent collaboration with anti-tobacco organizations like the Truth Initiative and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

King is believed responsible for creating the name given by the CDC to the lung injuries caused by the 2019 spread of tainted THC cartridges. The name—“e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI)”—suggested that commercial nicotine vaping products (e-cigarettes) were at least partly responsible for the injuries that killed almost 70 American cannabis vapers. No nicotine vaping device was ever tied to a case of “EVALI,” and the outbreak slowed and then stopped after illicit cannabis processors stopped mixing cannabis oil with toxic vitamin E acetate to increase profits.

During that crisis, CDC leadership allowed King to address reporters, and he made several bizarre and speculative comments. For example, he suggested during one press event that lung injuries like “EVALI” may have been occurring since the advent of nicotine vaping more than a decade earlier, but that epidemiologists may have missed the evidence.

King has co-authored numerous slanted articles and scientific papers about vaping and other low-risk nicotine product use. He wrote or approved a CDC article that asserted the style of vaping known as dripping involved pouring e-liquid directly onto already-hot coils. In a press release, he once deliberately misinterpreted his own study of Juul Labs’ product sales to suggest that many more JUUL devices were in circulation than actually were.

Recent changes in AVM leadership

In early January, AVM announced that AVM President Amanda Wheeler had stepped down from her position with the trade organization to accept a government affairs position at Philip Morris International, which is now entering the U.S. market. Wheeler will continue to advise AVM, which she and Cloud 9 Vapor Shop owner Char Owen founded together in 2020.

Following Wheeler’s departure, Owen has moved from vice president to president of the trade group, and Allison Boughner will take over the VP chair. Boughner is the marketing and communications director for South Carolina e-liquid manufacturer and vape shop chain Ecig Charleston, and also holds positions in other regional and national industry advocacy groups.

Gregory Conley, who also serves as president of the American Vaping Association, joined AVM last summer as director of legislative and external affairs.

Image courtesy YouTube.

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy
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