FDA’s Recent Regulatory Actions on Tobacco Products

CTP Connect

Interview with New CTP Director Brian King

Dr. Brian King, Director, Center for Tobacco Products

What are your top priorities as the new Director of the Center for Tobacco Products?

As the new director of CTP, I fully intend to build upon the strong foundation of my predecessors by continuing to use the authorities granted to us by Congress to achieve our Center’s longstanding vision–which is to make tobacco-related disease and death a part of America’s past, not America’s future. 

CTP is comprised of a dedicated team of more than 1,000 staff who work day in and day out to tirelessly achieve this mission. Over the past 13 years, CTP has made significant strides in issuing regulations to implement the Tobacco Control Act, reviewing new tobacco products before they can be legally marketed, taking compliance and enforcement actions to hold companies accountable when we have evidence of violations of the law, and educating the public about tobacco products.

I’m proud to assume the role of CTP Director and look forward to continuing to work with this stellar team to protect Americans from tobacco-related disease and death. 

How do you think your experience as a scientist has uniquely prepared you for this role in tobacco regulation?

I'm a scientist by training and have been working in tobacco control science for the better part of the past two decades, so I’m particularly attuned to and have an appreciation for the work involved in ensuring that our marketing authorization decisions and regulatory actions are informed by the best science available.

When considering the diversity of data that can inform the work that we do, I think there are opportunities to leverage the collective knowledge of the broader public health research community. It’s not just what FDA is actively doing by itself, but also how we’re collaborating with other researchers and institutions, through our extensive grant portfolio, to help ensure we’re capitalizing on existing knowledge and enhancing the tools available to us.

What are your plans for combatting youth vaping?

As a regulatory agency, in determining if a new tobacco product may be legally marketed, we must follow the law and science, considering both the benefits and risks to the population as a whole, including users and non-users of tobacco products – and importantly youth.

I draw a hard line when it comes to youth prevention. Youth should not be using any tobacco product, and I’m fully committed to ensuring the known risks of these products to youth are included in our decision making – in addition to any potential benefits of tobacco products to adult smokers.

We’re living in a time where people receive communication and information in a variety of ways, and we must leverage that as an opportunity to reach key populations, particularly at-risk youth and young adults, and those that are disproportionately impacted by the negative health consequences of tobacco products. Through our “The Real Cost” e-cigarette prevention campaign, we use a variety of marketing tactics and creative advertising to educate youth about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

The Center for Tobacco Products is still a relatively new organization within FDA. What contributions do you see yourself making to continue building a strong foundation for the protection of public health through tobacco regulation?

There are several key themes that I plan to prioritize during my tenure at CTP, including sound science, communication, fostering mutual relationships, and health equity.

Science is central to the important work we do, and I’m committed to continuing to ensure that we use the best available science to inform our decision making. 

Clear, transparent, and timely communication is also important to me, including proactively messaging on the great progress our Center continues to make on key priorities.  It’s also critical to cultivate and sustain relationships – both within and outside FDA – to best achieve our mission. 

We also have tremendous opportunity to reach populations that have been disproportionately affected by tobacco use. The menthol and cigar flavors rulemakings, as well as work related to making cigarettes minimally or non-addictive, are just a few examples of our ongoing work toward meaningful change to achieve health equity.

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