FDA Basics: Lawrence Deyton — Director Center for Tobacco Products



dr. deagle products what's your core mission the center for tobacco products is the newest arm of FDA Center was just set up recently and its main mission is to implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that's a new law that the President signed that gives FDA authority to regulate tobacco products what does that mean regulate tobacco products well I think we all know that tobacco is a dangerous substance tobacco is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States and FDA now has authority to regulate tobacco products by really executing four different related missions the first being to help prevent young people from initiating tobacco use and that's always an issue and how to do that is a very very interesting and complicated thing second we have authority now to help adults with new strategies for how to quit using tobacco products who want to quit their their own tobacco use the third major area is to develop education and information that will help inform the whole population about the risks of using tobacco products and that's important because for the first time FDA now is getting real information about what is actually in tobacco products and then the fourth major responsibility we have under this new law is to build a scientific base for tobacco product regulation what does that mean a scientific base for regulation the this new law gives FDA very broad authorities for how to regulate tobacco products all to deliver good for the entire population to improve the public health of population and so to develop the scientific base means we get to take the knowledge that we get from the tobacco industry What's in tobacco products which frankly nobody has really ever known before but they have to now report that to the FDA FDA scientists now get to take that information confirm it and begin to understand what we need to do with that to either implement tobacco product standards which means now the FDA gets to gets the opportunity to propose how much of certain constituents are in tobacco products so FDA could propose setting the amount of nicotine in all tobacco products setting the amount of carbon monoxide that might be breathed in in smoked tobacco setting the amount of tobacco associated nitrosamine which is a constituent of most tobacco which is highly known to cause cancer so FDA now is able to target those those standards it seems as though that what you're doing is really quite central to the mission of the Food and Drug Administration that being public health because the use of tobacco is a severe public health issue correct yes certainly to consumption of tobacco in this country is the leading preventable cause of disease and death causes almost a half a million deaths a year I think the other thing that's that's really profoundly important in understanding what our role here is and that is that really one in four one in five teenagers are active tobacco users that that youth are still being attracted to and using tobacco products is quite frankly a tragedy because kids might acquire the use of tobacco before they have the knowledge to really understand the lifetime risk that they have and then become addicted as teenagers and when you all the research studies do tell us that back eighty eighty five percent of adult tobacco users started as kids so it's very important our focus on on youth access and youth attractiveness to tobacco products so it continues to be this this major public health issue in this country I think the figures are something like it causes it costs the economy almost two hundred billion dollars a year in excess morbidity and productivity lost to diseases caused by tobacco one of the things that interests me when you're talking about the science that underlies a lot of this proposed regulation is that if you know what's in say a cigarette mmm and then then that might help you understand strategies to get people to quit or strategies to use about how one deals with how tobacco is advertised what's on a pack is there that kind of relationship yes I mean the the the the the information that FDA is getting now from the tobacco industry about what's in their product is is new and it allows us the FDA to take that information and develop public health education programs and campaigns targeted to both kids as well as adult users so that they will understand I think we all and we all know we've won the battle that the public knows that tobacco is dangerous but most people don't know how dangerous it is to them and certainly to those people around them if they're smoking tobacco products so we get this opportunity now to develop that public health education campaign programs to to educate the public about that is it possible that people could confuse the fact that the FDA can now regulate tobacco with the FDA giving its stamp of approval yes very very important issue we've already done some surveys to demonstrate that there are some people who believe oh great FDA is involved I trust the FDA therefore I can smoke now and that is certainly not the case just because FDA is involved does not mean tobacco products are safe you're relatively new to this agency where'd you come from I came directly to this job from the Department of Veterans Affairs and I was with the Department of Veterans Affairs for a dozen years I practice medicine there I was chief of public health for the whole VA health care system I'm very proud to serve our veterans just a wonderful organization and in that role I was fortunate to also have some responsibilities for VA s tobacco control programs and as many people who know or live with veterans many veterans smoke or use tobacco more than the average population so we had some challenges there and I was very pleased that we had a very good outcome and some intents on tobacco control programs in the VA news deliver clinic that you yes I still AM active an active clinician I see patients every Friday morning at the Washington DC VA Medical Center and in many ways that my clinical practice it it actually was when dr. Hamburg offered me the job it was actually the only condition I placed on on accepting the job that she would allow me to continue to have my clinic one time a week that's a little selfish on my part because I do love being a physician but also frankly it does inform what we do here at FDA and what I do in helping set up the Center for tobacco products so you've been at this at this job for almost a year mm-hmm how's it going being at FDA is wonderful I have worked in government public health and medical programs my whole career spent some time on Capitol Hill I spent quite a bit of time at the Department of Health and Human Services first in the office of the assistant secretary for health then at NIH for many years and I have always had great reverence frankly to the mission of FDA and to now at this stage of my career be able to come here and to help FDA expand its already phenomenal public health mission and take on tobacco learn what it means to be part of the FDA but also now help add tobacco to our responsibilities is it's just a dream come true so I'm having a wonderful time here

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