FDA seeks to lower nicotine in cigarettes

Earlier today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed a plan to regulate tobacco production by stripping cigarettes of their highly-addictive nicotine properties to nonaddictive levels.

Despite years of aggressive efforts to tackle the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, tobacco use - largely cigarette smoking - still kills more than 480,000 Americans every single year.

According to the commissioner, the ANPRM provides a wide-ranging review of the current scientific understanding about the role nicotine plays in creating or sustaining addiction to cigarettes and seeks comments on key areas, as well as additional research and data for public review.

Groups like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been trying to change that for decades, but - particularly in the U.S. - the wealthy tobacco industry has maintained a firm hold on political purse strings, delaying or altogether blocking public health efforts. In trials, people instructed to exclusively smoke very low nicotine cigarettes smoked fewer per day, showed less evidence of the kinds of physiological harms produced by cigarette smoking, and were more likely to try to quit after the trial was over.

There has been no clear decision on much nicotine the FDA intends to cut, or how quickly implementation will be, NPR reports.

In our investigations in Congress, we found out that cigarette companies were manipulating the nicotine levels in cigarettes to make them more addictive to people.

Last July, two months after taking office, Gottlieb said the FDA would focus on reducing nicotine levels to make them less addictive, and make other nicotine products, including patches and gum, more safe.

"Such a policy could only have viability if there were viable non-combustion alternatives for smokers, something the FDA has been impeding rather than facilitating to date", said David Sweanor, an adjunct law professor at the University of Ottawa and the author of several electronic-cigarette studies.

Public comments about a proposed standard can be made for the next 90 days.

Читайте также: FDA Authorizes First Direct-to-Consumer BRCA Mutation Test

"If this could be implemented, it could be a tremendous boon for public health", Waxman said.

Yet, 15 percent of adult Americans smoke, and tobacco remains a $700 billion industry in the US.

"This new regulatory step advances a comprehensive policy framework that we believe could help avoid millions of tobacco-related deaths across the country".

Gottlieb added that cigarettes are still responsible for the deaths of over 480,000 Americans per year, and on top of this smoking costs almost $300 billion a year in terms of health care and lost productivity.

Is limiting the amount of nicotine in cigarettes a good strategy?

Young people would benefit hugely from the proposed move, one lung health expert said.

He continued to recommend the FDA require large, graphic health warnings covering at least half of cigarette packs, and prohibit menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.

"We see a historic opportunity here to potentially more rapidly migrate cigarette users into products that are modified-risk", Gottlieb said, adding that "the jury's still out" on whether e-cigarettes present a net gain to public health. This is a pivotal part of our overall public health approach.

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