FDA Plans To Make Cigarettes Less Addictive

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"When I returned to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration previous year, it was immediately clear that tackling tobacco use - and cigarette smoking in particular - would be one of the most important actions I could take to advance public health", the statement said.

Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called the move "an historic first step" to make cigarettes minimally addictive or nonaddictive.

United States regulators Thursday opened the door to slashing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes in order to make them less addictive, a move that could mean millions fewer smokers in the years to come.

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'However, I do welcome and support this new consensus statement as a balanced and measured summary of what is known and can be said about where e-cigarettes appear to be positioned in terms of relative health risks to smokers, when compared with conventional smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 percent of US adults still smoke. Use among young people is also historically low, although smoking continues to cause 480,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an antismoking group, said that Thursday's action will have "enormous significance" - provided it is followed by quick FDA action to develop and adopt a final rule.

E-cigarettes can cause more public health harm than benefit though it is known as a safer alternative to cigarettes. Would limits on nicotine foster the growth of a black market in high-nicotine cigarettes?

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Gottlieb said the FDA does not want to make nicotine products harder to get.

He questioned whether lowering nicotine levels would open the door to illicit trade or force addicted smokers to compensate by smoking even more.

The move would be a big blow to Big Tobacco, which has successfully fought off attempts to regulate how cigarettes are formulated.

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"We look forward to working with FDA on its science-based review of nicotine levels in cigarettes and to build on the opportunity of establishing a regulatory framework that is based on tobacco harm reduction and recognizes the continuum of risk", said James Figlar, executive vice president for research and development for Reynolds.

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