Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for the past six years, announced today that she will be stepping down from her post at the end of March.
Hamburg’s departure comes as the premium cigar and e-cigarette industries await possible regulation by the agency, and it is unclear what, if any, effect her departure will have on those pending regulations. While no timetable has been set for an announcement, some close to the situation believe it would be summer at the earliest before an official ruling is made.
Hamburg was nominated to the position by President Obama in May 2009 and among the numerous health initiatives she has overseen has been the potential regulation of premium cigars, as well as pipe tobacco and electronic cigarettes.
In a letter written by Hamburg to staff and colleagues that was obtained and circulated by Cigar Rights of America, Hamburg specifically mentions the work regarding tobacco that has been accomplished under her watch:
We made significant progress in implementing both the letter and spirit of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Our tobacco compliance and enforcement program has entered into agreements with numerous state and local authorities to enforce the ban on the sale of tobacco products to children and teens; conducted close to 240,000 inspections; written more than 12,100 warning letters to retailers; proposed the extremely important foundational “deeming” rule; and broken new ground for FDA with the launch of the Agency’s first public education campaigns to prevent and reduce tobacco use among our nation’s youth.
Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA’s Chief Scientist, will serve as Acting Commissioner until a new commissioner is nominated and approved.