FDA Debuts Center for Tobacco Products

Public health, VA care expert Deyton will lead agency's regulation effort

Published in CSP Daily News

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has launched its new Center for Tobacco Products. The Center will oversee the implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act signed by President Obama in June 2009. The FDA's responsibilities under the law include setting performance standards, reviewing premarket applications for new and modified risk tobacco products and establishing and enforcing advertising and promotion restrictions.

Lawrence Deyton, M.D. M.S.P.H., an expert on veterans' health issues, public health, tobacco use, [image-nocss] and a clinical professor of medicine and health policy at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, will serve as the center's first director.

"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."

Before coming to the FDA, Deyton was Chief Public Health and Environmental Hazards Officer for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. His responsibilities there included oversight of the VA's public health programs including tobacco use, the health of women veterans, the long-term health consequences of military service, and the VA's emergency preparation and response. He was selected after a national search.

The FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, located on the FDA's White Oak Campus in Silver Spring, Md., will use the best available science to guide the development and implementation of effective public health strategies concerning tobacco products.

To implement the program, the FDA will start 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 & 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.

Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, M.D., M.P.H., said, "Dr. Deyton's public health and tobacco cessation experience will be invaluable as the Department of Health & Human Services [HHS] and the [FDA] take on this challenge" of tobacco regulation.

One of Deyton's priorities had been revitalization of the VA's smoking and tobacco use cessation programs. Under his leadership, current smoking among veterans enrolled in the cessation program fell from 33% in 1999 to 22% in 2007. The VA health care system is the largest integrated provider of health care and medical services in the United States, with more than 1,400 sites serving nearly six million veterans in fiscal year 2008.

"I am eager for the challenge of leading the tobacco team at FDA," said Deyton. "This is a tremendous opportunity for us at FDA to work hand-in-hand with the CDC, researchers at the National Institutes of Health [NIH], and public health leaders in the states to make progress in combating tobacco use."

Deyton has served for 11 years in leadership positions in the National Institute of Allergy & 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 & the Environment in the 1970s.

He was a founder in 1978 of the Whitman Walker Clinic, a community-based AIDS service organization in Washington. He is 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.

Click herefor the FDA's Tobacco Products webpage.

And click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage of the FDA and tobacco.