The FDA May Lose Its Tobacco Remit

The Trump administration wants to remove the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority.

In his 2021 budget proposal, released on Feb. 10, President Donald Trump envisions the CTP as a stand-alone agency with a Senate-approved director.

The budget proposal states that making the CTP its own agency would allow the FDA to “focus on its traditional mission of ensuring the safety of the nation’s food and medical products supply” while “a new agency with the singular mission on tobacco and its impact on public health would have greater capacity to respond strategically to the growing complexity of new tobacco products.”

Public health advocates reacted strongly against the proposal, saying it would roll back any forward motion the FDA has had in terms of regulating tobacco products. Creating “a new stand-alone agency to handle tobacco regulation is the wrong idea at the wrong time,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Public health advocates already feel that Trump’s recently enacted flavor ban is too weak because it allows for single-use disposable flavored products to remain on the market, which they believe youth will gravitate toward in the absence of other flavored products. The ban removes flavored pod products with the exception of tobacco and menthol flavors from the market.

Some fear that having a Senate-approved director of this new agency would politicize the regulation of the industry—it could “greatly politicize its management and activities,” said Eric N. Lindblom, senior scholar at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law and a former director of the FDA CTP’s Office of Policy.

The FDA was granted oversight of tobacco in 2009 under the Obama administration. The CTP was then created within the FDA to regulate the industry. The CTP would remain under the Department of Health and Human Services under the new budget proposal.