FDA Proposes Cutting Nicotine Amounts In Cigarettes, Targeting Addiction

The US Food and Drug Administration will work to cut the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels, with the goal of preventing thousands of tobacco-related deaths a year.

The FDA says tobacco is responsible for 480,000 American deaths each year, and $300bn (£228bn) in medical costs.

Manufactures of newly regulated combustible products, including cigars, pipe tobacco and hookah tobacco will have until August 8, 2021 to submit applications for market approval. This costly process would, in practice, have resulted in the near complete elimination of harm-reduction tools like e-cigarettes from the market.

"The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes-the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. Tobacco kills more than 480,000 people a year in the U.S. and costs society nearly $300 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity.

USA smoking rates have been falling for decades.

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The timing of the FDA's announcement raised eyebrows in the City as it came only three days after BAT completed the acquisition of the 57.8 per cent of Reynolds American it did not already own for $49.4 billlion.

"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.

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.

The FDA's official media release specifically mentions that the agency plans on developing product standards to "protect against known public health risks, such as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) battery issues and concerns about children's exposure to liquid nicotine".

By Friday evening in London, the slide in stocks was poised to wipe billions off the market value of the world's biggest tobacco producers, according to Thomson Reuters.

  • Myrtle Hill