Michele Mital, the current deputy director for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), will become the acting director next month, coinciding with the retirement of Mitch Zeller.

This is of little surprise given that Mital has held the deputy position since 2018 and is believed to be a leading candidate to replace Zeller on a full-time basis. She has spent more than 25 years at FDA, beginning in 1996 as a policy analyst for FDA”s Office of Tobacco Programs. She joined CTP in 2009 as the acting associate director for policy.

Zeller’s planned retirement became public in December. His tenure began in March 2013 and he has overseen FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products through most of its existence as the department was not established until August 2009. During his tenure, FDA enacted the Deeming Regulations, a set of rules that regulated products like cigars, pipe tobacco and e-cigarettes for the first time in a meaningful way at the federal level. Zeller’s legacy will be defined by both the passing of the deeming regulations, as well as the proliferation of e-cigarettes and vaping products.

There are two major cigar-related issues in front of the FDA at the moment. First, the agency is still in the process of its review of “premium cigar” regulations and the related court case. Second, FDA has said that it plans on banning all flavored cigars and has previously said an update on its proposal would be unveiled this spring.

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.