US to reduce nicotine level in cigarettes, says press


The US government is preparing to require cigarette manufacturers to reduce nicotine to non-addictive levels, local media reported on Tuesday.

The measure would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop and publish a regulation, which could be challenged by the tobacco industry, said The Wall Street Journal, the first to report on the matter.

Implementation of the initiative would take several years and could be delayed or derailed by litigation, or reversed if a future government decides not to go ahead because it does not sympathize with its goals.

Nicotine is the substance that drives millions of people to smoke cigarettes. Thousands of other chemicals contained in tobacco and its smoke are responsible for diseases such as cancer, stroke, diabetes, heart and lung diseases, among others.

Although the number of smokers has declined over the years, tobacco is responsible for 480,000 deaths a year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 13.7% of American adults are currently smokers, according to CDC data. Reducing the level of nicotine in cigarettes has been a topic of debate among US authorities for years.

In 2017, then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that he wanted to advance the issue and funded a study published in 2018 in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that “reduced nicotine cigarettes… ” and “the number of cigarettes smoked”.

The tobacco industry rejects these findings, saying that, in reality, people would smoke more.

President Joe Biden has made the fight against cancer a centerpiece of his agenda, and the nicotine reduction policy would fit into his goals at minimal cost.

The economic cost of smoking amounts to more than $300 billion a year, according to the CDC, including more than $225 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity due to premature death and exposure to smoke.

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