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FDA Announces Plans To Cut Nicotine Levels In Cigarettes

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The US Food and Drug Administration announced that it will take steps to greatly reduce the amount of nicotine found in cigarettes, with the goal of helping millions of smokers to gradually stop their deadly smoking habits, and prevent many others from taking up smoking in the first place.

Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner, said in a statement,

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.

He added, “Given their combination of toxicity, addictiveness, prevalence, and effect on non-users, it’s clear that to maximize the possible public health benefits of our regulation, we must focus our efforts on the death and disease caused by addiction to combustible cigarettes.”

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

But in a notice in the Federal Register expected to be published on Friday, the FDA said that it is “considering developing a proposed product standard to make cigarettes minimally addictive or nonaddictive by setting a maximum nicotine level.”

The agency pointed to research that mentioned reducing nicotine levels to between 0.3 and 0.5 milligrams per cigarette. The nicotine levels currently in conventional cigarettes are in the range of around 1.1 to 1.7 milligrams, the notice stated.

Reducing the amount of nicotine to 0.4 milligrams could help around five million adult smokers kick the habit within a year, and prevent around 33 million more from becoming regular smokers by 2100. This alone could dramatically cut the current smoking rate in the United States from 15% to as low as 1.4%, the FDA said, preventing eight million tobacco-related deaths by the time this century closes.

This is the first concrete step the agency has taken since announcing preliminary plans to cut down on nicotine back in July 2017. The FDA added that many factors have to be taken into consideration before taking the plan further.

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