Laboratory - Scientific Services Division

SSD Establishes New Tobacco Laboratory to Reenergize Tobacco Program

Renewed efforts and focus at TTB in the tobacco program area, including a 2006 notice of proposed rulemaking on the tax classification of tobacco products, has increased the demand for technical support from our program offices in tobacco product classification, rulemaking projects, and the enforcement of tobacco regulations.

As the Bureau division tasked to provide technical support to TTB offices, the Scientific Services Division (SSD) established the Tobacco Laboratory (TL) in January 2008 to ensure that the Bureau addresses the growing needs of this program area. The new Tobacco Laboratory was created by reorganizing the Nonbeverage Products Laboratory, which used to provide the tobacco-related support to TTB program offices. 

Reenergize Tobacco Program 1In its mission statement, the Tobacco Laboratory commits to helping TTB achieve its overall mission by producing "accurate and authoritative information for tobacco products needed by TTB in collecting the revenue."  Fulfilling this commitment requires the chemists assigned to the new lab, Dr. Dawit Bezabeh and John Shifflett, to expand upon their expertise in supporting TTB programs on tobacco, develop new analytical capabilities, and bring novel technologies to develop the TL into a world-class tobacco laboratory.

As a distinct branch of SSD, the Tobacco Laboratory will focus on staying abreast of the advances in tobacco science as well as the changes in tobacco manufacturing processes.  Currently, the laboratory is focused on identifying chemical markers in various tobacco products that will help TTB establish objective criteria for distinguishing between product classes.

The new Tobacco Laboratory is well-equipped to carryout its mission. In the last two years, the laboratory has acquired a segmented flow analyzer, an automated extraction and filtration system to automate the time-consuming tobacco extraction process, a Capillary Electrophoresis-Mass Spectrometer (CE-MS), a Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (LC/MS), and a Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS).

The Tobacco Laboratory continues to work closely with TTB offices, assisting the Regulations and Rulings Division in providing tax classifications and technical support on tobacco-related rulemakings.  The lab also supports the Trade Investigations Division, the Tax Audit Division, and the Intelligence Division in their efforts to thwart tax evasion and the illicit tobacco trade. 

Reenergize Tobacco Program 2The laboratory plans to strengthen its partnerships with State tax authorities and other Federal agencies.  Further, the Tobacco Laboratory has been developing professional relationships with domestic and international tobacco regulatory agencies and professional organizations to actively participate in global tobacco testing and research initiatives to harmonize tobacco analysis protocols and standards for tobacco product contents and emission testing.

The Tobacco Laboratory will continue to grow, and enhance its resources and technical capabilities. With its dedicated employees, strong support from the TTB management, and state-of-the-art laboratory and technologies, the Tobacco Laboratory looks forward to meeting the growing challenges in its support of the enforcement and regulation of tobacco products by TTB.

Page last reviewed/updated: 09/04/2012

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