Administration May Force Nicotine Reduction in Cigarettes
April 20, 2021
The Biden administration is considering two measures that would affect tobacco companies and American smokers, the the Wall Street newspaper reported, citing anonymous people familiar with the case.
First, the administration can require tobacco companies to reduce the nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels, the WSJ reported. Nicotine doesn’t cause cancer, but it is addictive and causes people to smoke.
Second, the Food and Drug Administration must respond by April 29 to a citizen petition to ban menthol cigarettes. The FDA must disclose whether it plans to take such action itself, the WSJ reported. Many young people start to smoke with menthol cigarettes.
The Biden administration would take one or both of those actions, the WSJ said. The White House and the FDA did not respond to the WSJ’s request for comment.
Under the Trump administration, then FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb decided to cut back on nicotine and ban mints, but the initiatives were scrapped after his departure from the agency in 2019.
The FDA has considered forcing tobacco companies to lower nicotine levels for years, saying it could prevent 8 million deaths by the turn of the century.
“Smoking causes more deaths each year than AIDS, alcohol, illegal drug use, homicides, suicides and traffic accidents combined, and for adults 35 years and older, it is the main causes 163,700 cancer deaths each year; 160,600 deaths from cardiovascular and metabolic diseases; and 113,100 deaths from lung disease, ”the FDA said in a 2020 article on reducing nicotine levels.
Tobacco stocks fell on Monday after the news broke.
Altria, which owns several of the most popular brands of cigarettes, told CNBC that “any action taken by the FDA must be based on science and evidence and must consider the real consequences of such actions, including the growth of ‘an illicit market and the impact on hundreds of thousands of jobs, from farms to local stores across the country. “
“Many consumers mistakenly believe that a very low nicotine cigarette is less risky than traditional cigarettes, a misconception that poses a major obstacle in determining the proposed regulations for low nicotine cigarettes”, Reynolds spokesman Kaelan Hollon told CNBC.
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