Last Friday the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new regulations aimed at reducing the level of nicotine present in cigarettes. This announcement was met with hearty praise from health advocates, and caused tobacco company stocks to plunge.
Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner, stated that reducing nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes to nonaddictive levels shall be a part of their new comprehensive multi-year plan.
“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,” he said.
The FDA is also considering releasing new guidance how individuals can quit smoking.
In a Press Release, the FDA stated that their new approach, “places nicotine, and the issue of addiction, at the center of the agency’s tobacco regulation efforts. The goal is to ensure that the FDA has the proper scientific and regulatory foundation to efficiently and effectively implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.”
In a nod to the usefulness of e-cigarets as recovery tools, the FDA also signaled their intent to strike, “an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging development of innovative tobacco products that may be less dangerous than cigarettes, the agency is also providing targeted relief on some timelines described in the May 2016 final rule that extended the FDA’s authority to additional tobacco products. The agency will also seek input on critical public health issues such as the role of flavors in tobacco products.”
Commissioner Scott Gottlieb added, “Unless we change course, 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use. Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts – and we believe it’s vital that we pursue this common ground.”
President of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Matthew Myers, stated that these latest series of initiatives by the FDA has a “bold and comprehensive vision” that has the “potential to accelerate progress in reducing tobacco use and the death and disease it causes in the U.S.”
Myers argued that there shouldn’t be a delay in critical deadlines set for complying with the FDA’s latest standards and that the FDA should implement the agency as quickly and as comprehensively as possible, “Several of the proposals Dr. Gottlieb made today have particular promise to transform the fight against tobacco use — the No. 1 cause of preventable death in our country,” he said.
“If successful, this effort would be the first time the government has tried to get the Americans to quit cigarettes by reaching beyond warning labels or taxes to attacking the actual addictive substance inside,” stated the Washington Post.