FDA moves to reduce level of nicotine in cigarettes

Spent tobacco

Spent tobaccoImage flickr Karoly Czifra

According to the FDA, cutting the addictive substance in cigarettes could result in 5 million fewer adult smokers in the first year, prevent 33 million people from picking up the habit and result in over 8 million fewer tobacco-related deaths over the same period. Smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year, despite decades of anti-smoking measures that have pushed the smoking rate to new lows. "And this bold plan is, let's change it in the other direction, reduce nicotine so it's less addictive". "We're not sure at this time".

"There is no other single action our country can take that would prevent more young people from smoking or save more lives", said Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The study which gets published in the New England Journal of Medicine tells that the dropping levels of nicotine can make it easier for the people who want to quit smoking. "The government does have a responsibility to help keep Americans healthier and whatever laws they enact to help people cut down and quit smoking is going to help everybody", said Le.

The agency is seeking to determine a level of nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products that would be minimally addictive or nonaddictive, according to a draft proposal.

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But Bauld warns, "However, there will be big challenges implementing this in the real world". There is a discussion of lowering nicotine to a half of milligrams.

The plan to restrict nicotine in cigarettes is only part of a broader anti-smoking push outlined by Gottlieb. The FDA is now reviewing the iQOS application.

Also Robert West, professor of Health Psychology, University College London, said, "If we could move directly from where we are to a world where no accessible tobacco product contained addictive levels of nicotine that might work".

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While some of those products might bear similarities to electronic cigarettes, the FDA has not granted any company permission to market its product as a "reduced-risk" alternative to cigarettes.

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

It remains unclear whether e-cigarettes - which heat liquid nicotine into a vapor - help smokers quit.

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