FDA Plans To Make Cigarettes Less Addictive

FDA to Lower Nicotine in Cigarettes

The FDA was granted power to regulate tobacco in 2009.

While it's not yet clear exactly how much nicotine will be cut from the products, a new notice-it's expected to be published on Friday-states that the agency "is considering developing a proposed product standard to make cigarettes minimally addictive or nonaddictive by setting a maximum nicotine level".

"To that end, the agency's regulation of both novel nicotine delivery products such as e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products will encourage the innovation of less harmful products while still ensuring that all tobacco products are put through an appropriate series of regulatory gates to maximize any public health benefits and minimize their harms". The shift could reduce the current US smoking rate from 15 percent to as low as 1.4 percent, the FDA said, and prevent 8 million tobacco-related deaths by the end of the century.

Cutting nicotine to 0.5 milligram or less could help about 5 million adults smokers to quit within one year and prevent more than 33 million people from becoming regular smokers by the year 2100.

In discussing his comprehensive tobacco strategy on Thursday, Gottlieb said he sees "a historic opportunity" to use nicotine reduction as a way to move smokers from conventional cigarettes to products that provide nicotine without the serious health hazards posed by burning tobacco.




The agency cited research that could support reducing levels of nicotine to 0.3 to 0.5 milligrams per cigarette.

"It would be the most significant public health proposal we have seen from the USA government in the last 20 years", Myers said. "As we move forward with these efforts, we have an opportunity to more formally solicit feedback, and we'll continue to foster a public dialogue to re-shape our country's relationship with nicotine and seek public input on policies that will guide us toward a healthier future". For instance, will smokers turn to illicitly imported products, or simply smoke more cigarettes?

Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, warned of the dangers of taking it too slow.

The FDA will make two additional announcements about proposed tobacco rules, including ones related to flavors in cigarettes and another on so-called premium cigars.

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