FDA Proposes Cutting Nicotine Amounts In Cigarettes, Targeting Addiction

Jul 29, 2017, 00:12
FDA Proposes Cutting Nicotine Amounts In Cigarettes, Targeting Addiction

Tobacco stocks slid Friday morning following the release of a Food and Drug Administration plan to curb tobacco-related disease and death by reducing nicotine levels in smoking products. The FDA has not said what level of nicotine it is aiming for.

The agency says the new plan isn't meant to simply snuff out a multi-billion dollar industry, but rather to encourage companies to develop innovative products that prove to be less risky than cigarettes.

"This comprehensive plan and sweeping approach to tobacco and nicotine allows the FDA to apply the powerful tools given by Congress to achieve the most significant public health impact", said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.

As for newer nicotine-delivery systems such as vaping and electronic cigarettes, the FDA says that makers of those and other newly regulated products will be given more time to submit them for review. Tobacco kills more than 480,000 people a year in the United States and costs society nearly $300 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity.

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.

FDA claimed nicotine is most harmful when delivered through smoke particles in combustible cigarettes and that less harmful products like e-cigarettes should be explored. Citigroup analyst Adam Spielman said he didn't believe the FDA will be able to lower nicotine to nonaddictive levels because defining that level will be difficult, it would be hard to make cigarettes with a very low level of nicotine and there would be huge political opposition. It also puts pressure on the industry to speed so-called reduced-risk products to market.

According to the FDA, 90 percent of smokers had their first cigarette before they turned 18 years old and 2,500 kids try their first cigarette every day.

British American Tobacco shares fell as much as 11 per cent while Altria fell as much as 16 per cent.

As part of a series of new regulatory efforts to try to limit the harmful effects of tobacco, the agency plans to try to cut nicotine levels in cigarettes significantly.

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