Confirming speculation that began to surface in mid-October, today President Joe Biden nominated Dr. Califf to be the new commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

“Dr. Robert Califf is one of the most experienced clinical trialists in the country, and has the experience and expertise to lead the Food and Drug Administration during a critical time in our nation’s fight to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic,” Biden said in a statement. “As the FDA considers many consequential decisions around vaccine approvals and more, it is mission critical that we have a steady, independent hand to guide the FDA. I am confident Dr. Califf will ensure that the FDA continues its science and data driven decision-making. Dr. Califf had strong bipartisan support in the Senate in 2016, and I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Dr. Califf so he can continue the important work being done at this critical moment.”

It would be a return to the role for Califf, who held the position during the final year of the Obama administration after being named deputy commissioner of FDA’s Office of Medical Products and Tobacco in early 2015. After leaving FDA, Califf returned to Duke University as a professor of cardiology. Califf, who was also educated at Duke, has worked at Duke for most of his career.

Califf was the commissioner in charge of FDA when the agency finalized its deeming regulations, marking the first serious regulations of cigars and other tobacco products in the U.S. If confirmed, he will take over as the agency enters a new chapter in its regulation of tobacco products. This past week, the agency gave FDA approval for an e-cigarette, the first time it is has ever done so, and it is expected to make decisions about the future of the regulation of premium cigars early next year.

Califf still needs to be confirmed by a majority vote in the U.S. Senate.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.