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FDA Unveils Center for Tobacco Products, Names Director

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), newly empowered to regulate tobacco and cigarettes, has announced that Lawrence Deyton, M.D., will head the agency's new Center for Tobacco Products.

“The Center will oversee the implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed by President Obama in June 2009,” according to an FDA press release. “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.”

Deyton, previously the chief public health and environmental hazards officer at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, was described as an expert on veterans' health issues, public health, and tobacco use. He also is a professor of medicine and health policy at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., called Deyton — who revamped the VA's smoking and tobacco-cessation program — “the rare combination of public health expert, administrative leader, scientist, and clinician.”

The Center will be launched with $5 million in startup funding, with ongoing operations supported by user fees paid by manufacturers and importers of tobacco products.

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