Dr. Lawrence Deyton to head FDA's Tobacco Center..

August 20, 2009 -

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)tapped a Veterans Affairs official with extensive public health experience to head the agency's tobacco center, which formally opened Wednesday, August 19, 2009.

On June 22, 2009 President Barack Obama signed into law an anti-smoking bill, S. 982—The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.., that gives the FDA greater power to regulate tobacco.

Two weeks after the FDA was given duties to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products, the agency is setting up a new Tobacco Division at its Maryland headquarters. To kick things off for the new division, the FDA posted a help-wanted ad for a tobacco center director. Applicants, it says, need substantial scientific expertise and experience in toxicology, epidemiology and public health.

The real test, will be knowing how play well on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Or as the FDA post says: “Substantial expertise and experience in the area of administrative procedure and regulation, including deep familiarity with Congressional operations and policymaking in the executive branch” are required. (U.S. FDA posts job for new tobacco czar..).

Lawrence Deyton was chief public health officer at the VA, where he initiated smoking cessation programs that cut veterans' smoking rates. He also has worked at the National Institutes of Health and started a Washington community health organization that specializes in treating patients with HIV or AIDS.

The FDA's relatively swift launch of the tobacco unit and appointment of Dr. Deyton shows how seriously agency officials are taking their new responsibilities. The unit will be responsible for carrying out the legislation, including restricting tobacco advertising, collecting user fees from tobacco companies and stopping the sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products to children.

Just in a little over a month based on the new tobacco law all cigarettes or any of its component parts (including the tobacco, filter, or paper) should no longer contain, as constituent (including a smoke constituent) or additive, an artificial or natural flavor (other than tobacco or menthol) or an herb or spice, including strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon, pineapple, vanilla, coconut, licorice, cocoa, chocolate, cherry, or coffee, that is a characterizing flavor of the tobacco product or tobacco smoke.

Reference: FDA Names VA Official For Top Tobacco Post by Jared A. Favole, The Wall Street Journal - printed version, 8/20/2009.