The U.S. Senate on March 23 confirmed Vivek H. Murthy as United States surgeon general, reports The Washington Post.
The surgeon general, also known as the “nation’s doctor,” typically serves as a prominent spokesperson on public health issues but has a limited role in policymaking. President Joe Biden wants him to be a key public voice on the Covid response to restore public trust in medicine.
The surgeon general also oversees the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a uniformed service of about 6,000 public health workers who have helped staff the coronavirus response and administer vaccines but struggled earlier this year to get vaccinations of their own.
Murthy first served as surgeon general during the Obama administration, working on public health issues such as the opioid crisis. He also pursued his own work combating loneliness and the stigma of mental illness. He was the nation’s first Senate-confirmed Asian American surgeon general.
His original 2013 nomination was stalled in the Senate for more than a year, in part because gun rights organizations faulted Murthy for saying gun violence was a public health problem—a stance Murthy has continued to espouse.
Murthy is an advocate of e-cigarette regulation. In 2016, he released “E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults,” calling for action to reduce the use of vapor products among young people.
Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, at the time described the report as scientifically dishonest.
Siegel said the report essentially lied about the single most important fact that the public needed to understand about electronic cigarettes and vaping products: that they do not contain tobacco and therefore vaping is not a form of tobacco use.