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On December 12, 2019, Dr. Stephen Hahn was confirmed by the Senate to be the new Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He succeeds Scott Gottlieb, who resigned in April. What does this mean for the state of vape? We already know that the FDA has the power to regulate vape products and influence legislation on vaping. But who is Dr. Hahn? Where does he stand on vaping? The eLiquid.com team will bring the facts to the table—sit back and read.
Dr. Hahn was born on January 22, 1960. He underwent his medical education at Rice University and Temple University, gaining his M.D. at the latter in 1984. After a brief stop as a medical and radiation oncologist in Santa Rosa, California, Dr. Hahn continued his medical career at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) from 1989 to 1995. Dr. Hahn was also the chief of the NCI’s Prostate Cancer Clinic in the Clinical Pharmacology Branch from 1993 to 1999. He also served as a commander in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
Dr. Hahn’s experience in oncology led him to the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in 1996. At UPenn, Dr. Hahn was a medical and radiation oncologist, continuing his career in combating cancer. He also received funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) at this time and was also the Vice-Chair for Research in UPenn’s Department of Radiation Oncology. Dr. Hahn showed his ability to fundraise and receive grants from the NIH, ranking first or second in NIH funding during his time at UPenn. Dr. Hahn left UPenn in 2014, and the following year, he became the Division Head of Radiation Oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Hahn reached a milestone in his medical career by becoming the Chief Medical Executive at MD Anderson in 2018.
President Donald Trump took note of Dr. Hahn’s success and nominated him for the position of FDA Commissioner in November 2019. The position requires Senate confirmation. After hearings, Dr. Hahn was confirmed with a 72-18 vote in the Senate on December 12, 2019. Dr. Hahn is the 24th FDA Commissioner in United States history.
As of this writing, it is unclear where Dr. Hahn stands on vaping. He has remained relatively quiet on the issue even when he was grilled by senators during his confirmation hearings. Dr. Hahn gave a vague statement saying he would follow the “science and evidence” on vaping. However, Dr. Hahn’s leadership of the FDA will be immediately tested as many anti-vaping politicians expect Dr. Hahn to address the state of vape. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, has already said, “Dr. Hahn said to me that he doesn’t want to be known in history as the head of the FDA who saw this epidemic grow dramatically.”
Durbin is very passionate about regulating the vape industry in recent years, advocating for new taxes on e-cigarettes, as well as supporting flavor bans to ostensibly discourage underage use. However, many adult vapers have reported that flavors played a key role to help them switch to vaping. Durbin has also opposed the tobacco industry since his time in the House of Representatives. He represented Illinois’s 20th congressional district from 1983 to 1997.
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