FDA takes 'pivotal step' in plan to cut nicotine in cigarettes

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FDA planning to lower nicotine in cigarettes

U.S. regulators appreciate less amount nicotine cigarettes in order to make them less addictive.

The FDA estimates that setting such a standard would help 5 million smokers quit within a year and prevent more than 33 million teens and young adults from becoming regular smokers by the year 2100.

"As part of our comprehensive plan on tobacco and nicotine regulation announced last summer, we're issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to explore a product standard to lower nicotine in cigarettes to minimally or non-addictive levels", Gottlieb said in a statement. With these cigarettes, "more vigorous puffing is not rewarded more nicotine", Strasser said.

Nicotine is the active part of tobacco which most scientists think is to blame for both the stimulating and addictive effects of cigarette smoking.

"We believe this unprecedented approach to nicotine and tobacco regulation not only makes sense, but also offers us the best opportunity for achieving significant, meaningful public health gain", Gottlieb said.

The agency is asking for public comment on several aspects of the issue.

Anti-tobacco activists called the move "extraordinary". "We encourage the agency to not stop here but move forward quickly with a proposed rule on nicotine levels - not just for cigarettes, but for every combustible tobacco product on the market", Brown said.

Of all the preventable ways that Americans die, cigarettes claim more lives than any other every year, directly leading to almost one in every five deaths.

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"Tobacco use also costs almost $300 billion a year in direct health care and lost productivity". "There is no other single action our country can take that would prevent more young people from smoking or save more lives". "This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to greatly accelerate progress in reducing tobacco use - the nation's No. 1 cause of preventable death - and bring us closer to eliminating the death and disease it causes".

The FDA does not have the power to ban cigarettes or tobacco products, but was given some powers of regulation over them by Congress in 2009.

According to the report the present smoking rate 15%, this will drop to 1.4% by 2060.

Health groups urged the FDA to set a deadline and move fast. The public now has 90 days to comment on questions about the proposal and what level the upper limit should be. Those include: What potential maximum nicotine level would be appropriate?

"For example, our plan demonstrates a greater awareness that nicotine, while highly addictive, is delivered through products on a continuum of risk, and that in order to successfully address cigarette addiction, we must make it possible for current adult smokers who still seek nicotine to get it from alternative and less harmful sources", he explained. While it has overall been seen as a good step towards the reduction in smoking across the nation, there are concerns that cutting nicotine content will cause an increase in the number of cigarettes smoked by smokers.

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 evaluation was based on reducing nicotine levels to 0.4 milligrams per gram of tobacco filler, FDA officials told reporters during a teleconference.

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