FDA moves to lower nicotine in cigarettes

"We're taking a pivotal step today that could ultimately bring us closer to our vision of a world where combustible cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction -? making it harder for future generations to become addicted in the first place and allowing more now addicted smokers to quit or switch to potentially less harmful products", said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, warned of the dangers of taking it too slow.

This story will updated.

Tobacco kills more than 480,000 Americans each year and costs $300 billion a year in health care. Should a new standard be implemented all at once or gradually?

Principle investigator Samir Soneji from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice said that e-cigarettes smoking encourages cigarette smoking beginning and can lead to substantial harm to teens and young adults once they are introduced to nicotine.

Although the FDA sees benefits in lessening nicotine levels, it does not want to make cigarettes harder to get.

'To be absolutely clear, if e-cigarettes have a useful role to play for public health purposes, it is for some smokers who may find them useful on their journey to stopping smoking. For instance, will smokers turn to illicitly imported products, or simply smoke more cigarettes?

Other critical issues that will need to be addressed, according to officials, include the potential for illicit trade in high-nicotine cigarettes and whether addicted smokers would compensate for lower nicotine levels by smoking more.

Congress gave the FDA the power to regulate - but not ban - tobacco in 2009.

"Our plan demonstrates a greater awareness that nicotine, while highly addictive, is delivered through products on a continuum of risk", Gottlieb said in a statement. No regulatory agency in the world has seriously proposed reducing nicotine in cigarettes, he said.

The FDA plans to file two more rule-making notices - on one the impact of flavored tobacco, including menthol, and one on premium cigars.

  • Aubrey Nash