Tobacco-Free Kids Welcomes Formation of FDA's Center for Tobacco Products and Selection of Center Director

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Aug. 19 2009

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announcement today that it is establishing the Center for Tobacco Products and has selected Lawrence Deyton, MSPH, MD, a highly respected and experienced public health leader, as the Center Director is a demonstration of its commitment to moving quickly and vigorously to implement its new authority to regulate tobacco products, the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. This announcement comes just two months after Congress approved and President Obama signed into law historic legislation giving the FDA authority over tobacco products.

Dr. Deyton is a highly respected public health leader, an experienced administrator with a track record of success and a long standing appreciation of the importance of tobacco. He possesses precisely the type of leadership skills and commitment to public health that will be needed to build the new Center for Tobacco Products. At the Department of Veterans Affairs, he dramatically increased the percentage of veterans offered assistance in quitting, eliminated the sale of tobacco products at VA facilities, and played a key role in commissioning a study by the Institute of Medicine to identify opportunities for both the VA and the Department of Defense to reduce tobacco use and improve access to effective tobacco cessation programs

The FDA’s rapid action indicates that President Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and Principal Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein intend to do whatever is necessary to seize the historic opportunity presented by the new law to significantly reduce tobacco use and the death and disease it causes. Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans each year, sickens millions more and costs the nation $96 billion annually in health care bills. The new law grants the FDA the authority and resources to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products. Among other things, it will:

  • Restrict tobacco advertising and promotions, especially to children.
  • Stop illegal sales of tobacco products to children.
  • Ban candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes.
  • Require large, graphic health warnings that cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs.
  • Ban misleading health claims such as "light" and "low-tar."
  • Strictly regulate health claims about tobacco products to ensure they are scientifically proven and do not discourage current tobacco users from quitting or encourage new users to start.
  • Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco products, as well as changes in products and research about their health effects.
  • Empower the FDA to require changes in tobacco products, such as the removal or reduction of harmful ingredients or the reduction of nicotine levels.
  • Fully fund the FDA’s new tobacco-related responsibilities with a user fee on tobacco companies so no resources are taken from the FDA’s current work.

Find more information on the new law.

 

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