FDA announces plan to cut nicotine in cigarettes

Mark Lennihan  AP

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a plan on Friday to reduce tobacco-related disease and death by increasing regulations on tobacco and nicotine products.

In a statement, the regulator said it was aiming to create... The original deadline was November 8, 2018, and the four-year extension is supposed to provide more time for public comment and industry guidance as part of a "comprehensive regulatory plan" that aims to strike "an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging development of innovative tobacco products that may be less risky than cigarettes".

"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.

Cigarettes kill 480,000 people in the US each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.




The moves came amid furious lobbying by the e-cigarette industry to roll back FDA regulations, issued a year ago, that require companies to submit to a rigorous approval process for products marketed after February 15, 2007.

The FDA said it plans to "begin a public dialogue" about lowering nicotine to non-addictive levels. Applications for noncombustible products, such as e-cigarettes, would be submitted by August 8, 2022. Almost 90 percent of adult smokers start smoking before the age of 18 and nearly 2,500 youth smoke their first cigarette every day in the U.S. Less nicotine in cigarettes could mean fewer people in future generations become addicted to cigarettes.

Wade pointed to a study published this month in the British Medical Journal, using data from the FDA's Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey, which shows e-cigarettes contribute to significant increases in successful quit attempts across the country. However, the tobacco industry is already experiencing the blow on the stock market.

"This is just the USA regulator acting but we can easily see others, particularly in Europe, where regulatory pressures are already extremely high, following suit", Wilson said.

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