President Trump yesterday presented a $4.8 trillion budget proposal for the 2021 fiscal year beginning in October that calls for the creation of a new agency to focus on tobacco regulation, a move that would take tobacco out of the hands of the FDA, which currently oversees all tobacco products, including cigars.
Trump’s plan for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the parent agency of the FDA, is “to move the Center for Tobacco Products out of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and create a new agency within HHS to focus on tobacco regulation.”
Tobacco has been under the auspice of the FDA since 2009, after President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law.
The proposal continued: “This new agency would be led by a Senate-confirmed Director in order to increase direct accountability and more effectively respond to this critical area of public health concern. 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. In addition, this reorganization would allow the FDA Commissioner to focus on its traditional mission of ensuring the safety of the Nation’s food and medical products supply.”
In other words, this proposed new agency would not be led by Mitch Zeller, current director of the CTP, but instead would be headed by someone appointed by the President and then approved by the Senate.
Late last year, Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, questioned the FDA’s role in tobacco regulation.
“On a personal level, I hate tobacco issues, I always have, and FDA shouldn't be regulating this stuff in the first place,” Grogan said last November. He also added that the tobacco regulation by the FDA was a “huge waste of time.”
Trump’s budget proposal is likely to change dramatically when it goes before both the Senate and the House.
“The proposal by the Trump administration to have a new, independent federal agency charged with overseeing tobacco is truly interesting and probably reflective of recent comments by Mr. Joe Grogan of the White House Domestic Policy Council,” said Glynn Loope, executive director of the Cigar Rights of America. “It would surely have an uphill climb in Congress, but the very fact that it was noted in the President’s budget will stimulate a discussion that we look forward to monitoring and joining.”