Published: Thu, August 03, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

FDA Announces Plan to Lower Nicotine in Cigarettes to Non-Addictive Levels

FDA Announces Plan to Lower Nicotine in Cigarettes to Non-Addictive Levels

For the first time, the federal government is proposing cutting the nicotine level in cigarettes so they aren't so addictive. The FDA was given the power to regulate the tobacco industry in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009.

Still, we find it encouraging to see the FDA clearly state that nicotine, the addictive drug in tobacco, "is delivered through products that represent a continuum of risk and is most harmful when delivered through smoke particles in combustible cigarettes".

"A renewed focus on nicotine can help us to achieve a world where cigarettes no longer addict future generations of our kids", Gottlieb said in a speech to staff in Silver Spring, Md.

The release stated that officials hope the reduction of nicotine will decrease the likelihood of future generations getting addicted to cigarettes, citing research showing that nearly 90 percent of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18.

"The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes - the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users", Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner, said. By making it illegal a year ago to sell e-cigarettes to children, the FDA has effectively addressed the growing concern about children taking to vaping. E cigarettes are battery powered and they turn liquid nicotine into inhalable vapor. It turned out that smokers who switched to "light" cigarettes tended to engage in "compensatory behavior" that boosted nicotine delivery and moved them closer to their usual dose.

In the last five years, the percentage of smokers in Arizona has gone from 20 percent to 14 percent. But the research shows that's not what happens - not if enough nicotine is taken out, Donny said. But anti-smoking efforts seem to be working, at least in Arizona. Reducing nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels would therefore have multiple benefits - reduce the likelihood of new users (those in the 15-24 age group) getting hooked to cigarettes, increase the chances of habitual smokers being able to quit, and cut smoking-related disease and death burden overall.

The US regulatory body argues that nicotine is most harmful when delivered through smoke in cigarettes.

"As people can draw down on their nicotine addiction, then more and more people will make the next step and quit totally", Tormala said.

Kenneth Warner, a retired University of MI public health professor who is a leading authority on smoking and health, said he was pleasantly surprised to learn of the FDA announcement.

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president Matthew Myers praised the overall approach as "a bold and comprehensive vision" but called the e-cigarettes delay "a serious error".

Altria Group, which sells Marlboro and other cigarettes in the USA, said it would be "fully engaged" in FDA's rule-making process. While India is yet to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, it has followed most of the measures mentioned in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control guidelines.

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