FDA Opens Center for Tobacco Products

On Aug. 19, 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration opened a new Center for Tobacco Products on the agency’s White Oak Campus in Silver Spring, Maryland. The Center will set performance standards, review premarket applications, and establish and enforce advertising and promotion restrictions for tobacco products. Its goal will be to reduce the number of deaths that the products cause each year.

Lawrence Deyton was appointed director of the Center. Deyton is an expert on veterans’ health issues, public health, and tobacco use, and a clinical professor of medicine and health policy at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He previously served as chief public-health and environmental-hazards officer for the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Deyton helped reduce current smoking among veterans enrolled in VA’s smoking-cessation program by 11% from 1999 to 2007.

“We are thrilled to announce Dr. Deyton’s appointment as director of the Center for Tobacco Products and look forward to him joining the agency,” said Margaret A. Hamburg, FDA commissioner, in a press release. “He is the rare combination of public-health expert, administrative leader, scientist, and clinician.”

FDA will use $5 million from the fiscal year 2009 budget to establish the necessary administrative functions for the Center. User fees paid by manufacturers and importers of tobacco products will fund the Center and other activities related to the regulation of tobacco.

“I am eager for the challenge of leading the tobacco team at FDA,” Deyton said in the press release. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us at FDA to work hand-in-hand with the CDC, researchers at the National Institutes of Health, and public-health leaders in the states to make progress in combating tobacco use—the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.”

On Aug. 25, 2009, FDA established the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC), which will provide advice, information, and recommendations to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs about health and other issues relating to tobacco products. TPSAC will consist of 12 members, including a chair to be appointed by the Commissioner of Food and Drugs. Nine voting members will include healthcare professionals, an officer or employee of a state or local government or the federal government, and a representative of the general public. Three nonvoting members will represent the tobacco-manufacturing industry, tobacco growers, and the small-business manufacturing industry.

On June 22, 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products. The agency will cooperate with federal and state agencies and seek public input as it develops public-health strategies to reduce the number of deaths and illnesses caused by tobacco products, according to the FDA website.

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