FDA Tobacco Czar Named

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced its launch of its brand new Center for Tobacco Products, formed in an historic effort to curb the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by those products each year, said the FDA.

The Center will oversee the implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama in June 2009. The law will allow the federal government broad authority over tobacco products and will also allow regulators to control <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/light_cigarettes">cigarette packaging and marketing as well as how much nicotine—the addictive component in cigarettes—is added in tobacco products, explained the Washington Post previously.

The FDA’s responsibilities now include setting performance standards, reviewing pre-market applications for new and modified risk tobacco products, and establishing and enforcing advertising and promotion restrictions. Serving as the Center’s first director is Lawrence Deyton, M.D. M.S.P.H., 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.

“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 FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “He is the rare combination of public health expert, administrative leader, scientist, and clinician,” she added.

Prior to this most recent post at the FDA, Dr. Deyton was Chief Public Health and Environmental Hazards Officer for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs we he was responsible for oversight of the VA’s public health programs including tobacco use, the health of women veterans, long-term health consequences of military service, and the VA’s emergency preparation and response.

The FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, which is located on the FDA’s White Oak Campus in Silver Spring, Maryland, will use the best available science to guide the development and implementation of effective public health strategies to reduce the burden of illness and death caused by tobacco products. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the FDA, cigarette smoking causes an estimated 438,000 deaths, or about one of every five deaths, annually with adult smokers dying, on average, about 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.

The FDA will launch the Center with $5 million from the fiscal year 2009 budget to establish the necessary administrative functions for the Center. As set forth in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, funding for the Center and other activities related to the regulation of tobacco will come from user fees paid by manufacturers and importers of tobacco products.

In 2002, Deyton established the VA’s Public Health Strategic Health Care Group, which encompassed responsibilities for HIV, hepatitis C, tobacco use cessation, bioterrorism, and issues such as SARS, pandemic influenza, and other emerging public health threats. He became Chief Officer in January 2006. He served for 11 years in leadership positions in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, six years in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS, and as a legislative aide with the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Health and the Environment in the 1970s. Dr. Deyton is also a founder, in 1978, of the Whitman Walker Clinic, a community-based AIDS service organization in Washington, D.C. He is also a graduate of Kansas University, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the George Washington University School of Medicine. Deyton’s post-doctorate medical training was at the University of Southern California/Los Angeles County Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and continues to care for patients on a regular basis, said the FDA.

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