Industry groups slam Trump proposal to eliminate FDA tobacco oversight

Major organizations including the American Heart Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids have issued critical statements following the Trump administration’s 2021 budget proposal, which aims to abolish the FDA Center for Tobacco Products and establish a new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services.

If approved, the proposal would strip the FDA of legal authority established by the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention Tobacco Control Act, which allowed the federal agency to regulate tobacco products. The government would then create a new agency with the express purpose of tobacco regulation.

“We strongly oppose the administration’s proposal to create a separate government agency to oversee tobacco products,” Mark Schoeberl, the AHA’s executive vice president of advocacy, said in a Feb. 10 statement. “This unfortunately comes from an administration that has repeatedly placed the needs of the tobacco industry on equal footing with public health.”

Schoeberl noted other “harmful provisions” included in the 2021 proposal, including funding cuts for the National Institutes of Health, CDC, Medicaid and chronic disease programs. He said the budget cuts were “irresponsible” and “would do little to address cardiovascular disease and its growing threat in our country.”

Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, shared Schoeberl’s sentiment, saying in a statement that the Trump administration’s proposal “is the wrong idea at the wrong time.” Myers said it’s taken the FDA Center for Tobacco Products years to build up its staff, legal expertise and structure, and wiping that out would be a detriment to public health.

“By disrupting the current structure for regulating tobacco products, this proposal is a recipe for delay and distraction at precisely the time when the FDA must take decisive action to remove the many flavored e-cigarette products that are still on the market and when the FDA is about to begin its first-ever review of e-cigarettes,” Myers wrote. “Instead of stripping the agency that has spent a decade building its capacity, the administration should be taking strong and immediate action to protect kids.”