FDA Outlines Steps to Strengthen Tobacco Program

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) outlined the steps it plans to take in response to an external evaluation I commissioned last year from an independent panel of evaluators working through the Reagan-Udall Foundation. The evaluation was an important opportunity to take a critical look at the Tobacco Program’s regulatory processes and operations.

We have made tremendous progress preventing death and disability caused by tobacco use, but I am a strong believer that we can always benefit from examining how we can work most effectively and proactively to protect public health, support our staff, and be as responsive as possible to external stakeholders. When I started my career in intensive cardiac care, hospitals were full of relatively young people with sudden death, heart attacks, strokes and cancer attributable to tobacco use. The effectiveness of the public health and medical communities to reduce the toll of tobacco products was enhanced when the FDA was granted the authority to regulate tobacco.

As we enter this era of declining use of combustible tobacco and continued innovation in the e-cigarette industry, the societal concerns are not subtle. Our ability to keep pace with these changes will depend on immediate, short-term and long-term actions the center is taking that we believe will position the agency to more successfully implement our regulatory oversight of tobacco products.

CTP Director Brian King, Ph.D., M.P.H., has provided more detail about our approach to respond to the evaluation recommendations and our new plans, which will include the release of a 5-year strategic plan and comprehensive policy agenda by the end of the year.

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