FDA Chief Exits As E-Cig Fight Smolders

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg steps down from her post this week as the agency grapples with an one of the most contentious issues of her tenure: how to regulate electronic cigarettes.

Hamburg is recognized for her efforts to rein in tobacco companies over the last six years, but observers of a battle that’s pitting a burgeoning industry against public health advocates say her legacy is still being shaped.

Hamburg, 59, is retiring just months before the agency is expected to issue sweeping new e-cigarette regulations.

Public health groups say they hope her departure won’t affect the outcome of the rules.

“She has been a great champion in the fight against tobacco,” said Gregg Haifley, director of federal relations at the American Cancer Society. “You don’t save lives by reducing the number of cigarettes people smoke, but by reducing the number of people who smoke.”