What is the New FDA Commissioner Saying About Tobacco?

Califf weighs in on synthetic nicotine law, CTP director’s retirement
FDA Robert Califf

SILVER SPRING, Md. — In his first two months on the job, what has the new U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf said about tobacco?

One of the most significant laws to have passed since he was in the role was the signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2022 by President Joe Biden, which included a provision that allows the FDA to regulate tobacco products containing nicotine from any source, including synthetic nicotine.

The FDA will continue to make decisions and develop policies on tobacco product use based on the best available science, regardless of the source of nicotine, Califf said on an April 8 Twitter post where he shared an article on the synthetic nicotine “loophole” from

“As a physician, it pains me to see patients lose their lives to a preventable disease. Nicotine is extremely addictive, especially for children. We have to do more, and I’m pleased to say that we’re making progress,” Califf said. “A new law is set to take effect next week that closes the ‘loophole’ manufacturers have exploited to bypass FDA’s regulatory authority. We’ll hold manufacturers of synthetic nicotine to the same public health standards we’ve implemented for other tobacco products.”

The FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) Director Mitch Zeller also retired shortly after Califf took office.

“Mitch’s contributions to the FDA are enormous,” Califf said in another April 8 Twitter post. “His commitment to the pursuit of knowledge about tobacco and the exploration and use of regulatory science to support the work of the Center has had a profound impact on public health.”

Califf also noted his interest in tobacco as a cardiologist.

“As a cardiologist, the dangers posed by tobacco have been a particular area of interest for me,” Califf said. “So, I’ve especially enjoyed working [with] Mitch [and] engaging in many spirited discussions in pursuit of the best policies to reduce the public health burden caused by tobacco products.”

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