Washington: Food and Drug Administration officials has pledged a reset in the agency’s tobacco program, responding to criticisms that a lack of direction has hampered efforts to regulate cigarettes, vaping devices and related products.
The head of the agency’s tobacco center promised to deliver a five-year strategic plan by year’s end outlining priorities, including efforts to clean up a sprawling market of largely unauthorized electronic cigarettes. The agency also said it would provide more transparency to companies about its decisions, following the rejection of more than 1 million applications from e-cigarette makers seeking to market their products as alternatives for adult smokers.
The announcement comes as the tobacco center is besieged by criticism from all sides — including lawmakers, anti-smoking advocates and tobacco companies. FDA chief Dr. Robert Califf commissioned separate, external reviews of the agency’s tobacco and food programs last summer, amid controversies in both units.
The blistering report on the tobacco program, issued in December, described the FDA as “reactive and overwhelmed,” with a demoralized workforce that struggles to oversee both traditional tobacco products and a freewheeling e-cigarette market.