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Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb — who's fought against the rising teenage use of e-cigarettes — has resigned, President Donald Trump said Tuesday.
Gottlieb, a physician and former drug company consultant, had won praise from critics for his work fighting teen vaping and the opioid addiction crisis. The independently wealthy, father of three had been frustrated with his long commute to Washington, D.C., from his home in Connecticut, and wants to spend more time with his family, CNBC reported, citing people close to the FDA chief.
"This has been a wonderful journey and parting is very hard," he tweeted.
In his resignation letter, Gottlieb, 46, said he'd been "privileged to work with an outstanding team" at the agency. He wrote that he'll step down next month.
Trump praised Gottlieb on Twitter for having done "an absolutely terrific job."
"He and his talents will be greatly missed!" Trump tweeted.
"All of us at HHS are proud of the remarkable work Commissioner Gottlieb has done at the FDA. He has been an exemplary public health leader, aggressive advocate for American patients, and passionate promoter of innovation," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
He hailed Gottlieb's work on getting approvals for generic drugs, his efforts to combat opioid addiction and teen vaping. The departing FDA chief has also moved to force a reduction in the amount of nicotine in cigarettes.
In January, Gottlieb threatened to stop e-cigarette sales entirely and force makers to go through a formal FDA approval process unless the industry did more to combat the rise in teen use.
The move came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a 78 percent increase in vaping by high school students between 2017 and 2018, with 3.6 million high school and middle school students using e-cigarettes.
“I’ll tell you this. If the youth use continues to rise, and we see significant increases in use in 2019, on top of the dramatic rise in 2018, the entire category will face an existential threat,” he said then.
“It will be game over for these products until they can successfully traverse the regulatory process.”
His plan to cut down teen vaping is currently being reviewed at the White House, according to the Washington Post, which first reported Gottlieb's resignation.
Democrats had been skeptical of Gottlieb because of his work on behalf of drug companies, but many of his initiatives had bipartisan support.
Active on social media, Gottlieb denied that he had any plans to leave his post in January.
"I want to be very clear — I'm not leaving. We've got a lot of important policy we'll advance this year," he wrote then.