FDA veteran to spearhead tobacco regulatory efforts; current director to step down in March

RICHMOND, Va. – A Food and Drug Administration veteran who helped spearhead efforts to regulate the tobacco industry in the 1990s is taking over the agency’s Center for Tobacco Products.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says Mitch Zeller will become the centre’s director on March 4.

The centre’s first chief, Dr. Lawrence Deyton, plans to step down and become a professor of medicine and health policy at George Washington University.

A law enacted in 2009 gave the FDA authority to regulate a number of aspects of tobacco marketing and manufacturing, though the agency cannot ban nicotine.

Zeller currently serves as an executive with a Maryland-based pharmaceutical consulting firm. He previously served as an executive with the American Legacy Foundation. The anti-smoking organization was established as part of the settlement between states and the tobacco industry.