Three Harvard School of Public Health alumni named to new FDA tobacco advisory committee

Committee Will Evaluate Safety, Dependence, and Other Issues Related to Tobacco Products

For immediate release: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Boston, MA – The recently formed Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Center for Tobacco Products has just created a new Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee to review and evaluate safety, dependence, and health issues relating to tobacco products and provide appropriate advice, information, and recommendations to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs.

The Committee plans to develop reports on the impact and use of menthol in cigarettes on the public health, including vulnerable populations and ethnic minorities; the impact and use of dissolvable tobacco products; the alteration of nicotine yields in tobacco products and determination of threshold levels affecting dependence; and applications submitted by manufacturers for modified risk tobacco products.

Three of the nine voting members are Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) alumni: Chair, Jonathan M. Samet, M.D., M.S., Mark Stuart Clanton, M.D., M.P.H., and Gregory N. Connolly, D.M.D., M.P.H.  In addition, alumnus Lawrence Deyton, M.D., M.S.P.H., directs the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, which is charged with using the best available science to guide the development and implementation of public health strategies to reduce the burden of illness and death caused by tobacco products. The Center was created in August, 2009 in response to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Connolly worked closely with the late Senator Ted Kennedy on the design and passage of this historic 2009 legislation, which gives the federal government the power to regulate tobacco products, including nicotine levels, additives, toxins, and modified risk products.

“The Harvard School of Public Health is in a unique role to contribute to FDA regulation of tobacco products, as we have one of the only research centers in the nation that has conducted and published extensive work on the design and addictiveness of the actual product,” says Connolly, director of the Tobacco Control Research Program and professor of the Practice of Public Health at HSPH.  “This will prove essential to tobacco product regulation and saving lives from smoking.”

The first meeting of the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee will focus on published literature about the use of menthol in tobacco products, including, but not limited to, the health effects of menthol in cigarettes, marketing and consumer perceptions of menthol cigarettes, sensory qualities of menthol cigarettes, and preferential use of menthol cigarettes by persons initiating use. The HSPH Tobacco Control Research Group has previously published research on the cigarette industry’s manipulation of menthol levels in cigarettes:
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2008-releases/cigarette-menthol-manipulated-to-recruit-youths.html.
For more information:
Todd Datz
HSPH Office of Communications
617-432-3952
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu

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Harvard School of Public Health ( http://www.hsph.harvard.edu ) is dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children’s health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu.