National Conference on Tobacco or Health: Convening for a Healthier Future

By: Lawrence R. Deyton, M.S.P.H., M.D.

As director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), I am delighted that representatives from many areas within CTP will be participating in the National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH). NCTOH is one of the oldest and largest meetings on tobacco education and action, bringing together more than 2,500 national, state, territorial and local tobacco control scientists, program managers, communicators and other professionals in the field every three years. The mission of the conference is to improve the reach and effectiveness of tobacco control programs and activities throughout the United States.

This is the first time that CTP has participated in this meeting. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act) which gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products, was actually passed by Congress during the last NCTOH meeting in 2009. When the vote was announced, it drew large cheers from the participants.

Some of the staff from the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products attending NCTOH stand in the FDA exhibit. (from left to right): Tarsha McCrae, David Ashley, Les Weinstein, Laura Shay, Sarah Landry, Andrea Frydl, Greta Tessman, and Gail Cherry-Peppers.

FDA’s participation in this year’s conference comes at a critically important point in our history. Since CTP was established we have achieved success in moving science-based regulation forward with historic advances in public health.

Key accomplishments include:

  • enforcing the ban on candy-like characterizing flavors in cigarettes;
  • restricting youth access to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco;
  • enforcing requirements for larger smokeless tobacco health warnings;
  • enforcing prohibition of misleading advertising claims;
  • restricting cigarette and smokeless tobacco marketing to youth;
  • awarding nearly $43 million in contracts to 37 states and the District of Columbia for conducting inspections of retail establishments. So far they have conducted more than 86,000 inspections to determine whether the establishments are complying with regulatory requirements which, among other things, forbid selling cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to minors;
  • issuing more than 3,500 warning letters and 290 fines to retailers for violating the law.

Sharing what we’ve learned and accomplished will be an important part of CTP’s participation in the NCTOH conference. I will be giving remarks during the opening and closing plenaries as well as presenting during a panel session. Many other CTP staff members will be moderating or presenting during the conference on critical tobacco-related issues including:

  • key elements of FDA’s regulatory authorities;
  • consumer perceptions of dissolvable tobacco products;
  • the development of data systems to support tobacco regulation;
  • national tobacco education campaigns; and
  • strategic partnerships for retail tobacco enforcement.

If you are participating in the meeting, we encourage you to engage with us by attending our sessions and visiting our booth. CTP experts will be looking forward to taking your questions, sharing information and hearing about the activities in your community that are helping to reduce tobacco use and keeping young people from starting to smoke. 

Lawrence R. Deyton, M.S.P.H., M.D., is the Director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products