FDA announces intent to lower nicotine levels in cigarettes

FDA moves to lower nicotine in cigarettes

FDA moves to lower nicotine in cigarettes

FDA regulators estimate about 5 million more people would quit cigarettes within one year of new nicotine limits.

While experts say that cutting the nicotine in cigarettes would undoubtedly help to diminish their habit-forming power, the goal of "non-addictive" levels may be unattainable simply because we do not know how much - or how little - nicotine is required for addiction to form. Tobacco companies have been mostly silent in response to this new potential regulation but are supportive overall of establishing a regulatory framework that can assist in tobacco harm reduction.

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has noted how he and his organization are "at a crossroads when it comes to addressing nicotine addiction and smoking in this country". After that, Gottlieb said, "we're not going to prejudge how long this will take".

According to its calculations, the agency estimates that by the year 2100 its rule could stop 33 million young adults from starting to smoke, but said it's likely to increase the number of people using e-cigarettes and other noncombustible tobacco products.

Despite widespread efforts by USA regulators and the World Health Organization to stem the sale of cigarettes and their devastating public health consequences, smoking kills 480,000 Americans every year.

"Tobacco use also costs almost $300 billion a year in direct health care and lost productivity. In fact, cigarettes are the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users". Another concern is that slashing nicotine could lead to a black market in high-nicotine cigarettes.

The long rulemaking process is created to let people comment.

As such, Gottlieb is pushing forward with developing "several foundational rules, guidances, product standards and other regulations" on innovative tobacco products. They did not appear to smoke more cigarettes at a sitting, or to inhale more deeply, in an effort to compensate for the lower levels of nicotine they were getting.

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In a statement, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids called the agency's proposal a bold plan and urged officials to act quickly.

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said FDA could do even more.

Major tobacco players such as Altria Group and British American Tobacco are grappling with sales declines in the US market and hoping to recoup revenue through novel tobacco and nicotine products such as e-cigarettes.

The FDA will continue to take enforcement actions against companies that inappropriately target children, including through the promotion of e-cigarettes, Gottlieb said.

"We must make it possible for current adult smokers who still seek nicotine to get it from alternative and less harmful sources", he said.

On Feb. 20, the American Cancer Society recommended - with caution - to health care clinicians that they add electronic cigarettes and vaporizers as a smoking-cessation option.

The advanced notice of proposed rulemaking includes an extensive review of how nicotine affects the creation or sustainment of cigarette addiction, according to the statement.

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