U.S. FDA tobacco chief moving ahead despite facing legal action..

November 3, 2009 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving quickly to use its sweeping new tobacco powers despite facing swift legal action from cigarette makers, the agency's tobacco chief told Reuters on Tuesday.

Dr. Lawrence Deyton said lawsuits from companies such as Reynolds American Inc (RAI.N), Lorillard Inc (LO.N) and others are not slowing his work to set up the FDA's tobacco unit or take action against products that harm the public, especially children.

"Congress is very clear what it wants me to do, I'm moving ahead. Nobody's told me not to," Deyton said in an interview at his office in suburban Maryland.

The FDA Center for Tobacco Products, established by law in June, is charged with regulating cigarettes and other tobacco products. It will oversee the manufacturing and marketing, in part by regulating ingredients and setting advertising rules.

A flavored cigarette ban is being challenged in court by several privately held companies and distributors.

Major cigarette makers such as Reynolds and Lorillard also sued the FDA in August, saying the tobacco law limited the companies' free speech rights with advertising restrictions. (R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, others file suit claiming law restricts communication..) Altria Group Inc's (MO.N) Philip Morris unit, the nation's largest tobacco company and a supporter of the FDA's new oversight, is not part of that lawsuit. Also, FDA ban of flavored cigarette rolling papers.. Kretek International filed suit to prevent FDA from banning flavored cigars...

Reference: FDA tobacco chief sees no lawsuit impact, Reporting by Susan Heavey and Lisa Richwine; Editing by Tim Dobbyn, Reuters, 11/3/2009.

Related news briefs:
C-store update - let's ban all flavored tobacco products..;
For our children ban all flavored tobacco products..;
FDA says delaying tobacco authority will harm public..;
FDA deflects challenge from Reynolds, Lorillard, others..;
FDA - began collecting fees from nations tobacco companies..;
Dr. Lawrence Deyton to head FDA's Tobacco Center..;