In 2009, Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the marketing of tobacco products. Since then, the adult smoking rate has dropped from over 20% to under 13%. Many of those changes were guided by Mitchell Zeller, former director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA and finalist for a Service to America Medal.
- Zeller said that while smoking rates are historically low, there is more work to be done to reduce the “unacceptable number” of Americans who smoke – over 30 million.
- The country has made “tremendous progress” in preventing kids from smoking cigarettes but not as much with cigars, he told Government Matters.
- Zeller said he was happy to see the Biden administration support removing menthol from cigarettes. He said a major challenge for the administration will be to reduce allowable levels of nicotine in combustible tobacco products.