Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio
Cigarettes would contain less addictive nicotine — making them less attractive to smokers — under an “unprecedented” plan proposed by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (Source: “FDA Moves to Cut Nicotine in Cigarettes, Helping Smokers Kick Habit,” Kaiser Health News, March 15, 2018).
The FDA announced the plan on March 15.
Stripping cigarettes of all or most of their addictive power could lead 5 million adults to quit smoking within a year of the plan going into place and another 8 million to quit within five years, according to an analysis published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
By 2100, the plan would prevent 33 million people who are now children or young adults from ever taking up tobacco, saving 8 million lives.
The FDA is accepting public comments on the proposal. The FDA is considering a number of key questions about implementing the proposal. Those include: What potential maximum nicotine level would be appropriate? Should a new standard be implemented all at once or gradually? Would limits on nicotine foster the growth of a black market in high-nicotine cigarettes? Would smokers compensate for the loss of nicotine by smoking more cigarettes?
Given that the tobacco industry is likely to fight these proposals, it could be eight to 10 years before reduced-nicotine cigarettes become a reality, said Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy for the American Lung Association. The speed with which the FDA acts depends heavily on “the political will of the administration,” Sward said.