Yesterday, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. issued a notice of proposed rulemaking designed to reduce smoking rates in the United States by lowering nicotine in cigarettes to minimally or non-addictive levels. According to the statement, this action could cut the rate of smoking addiction in future generations and make it easier for current smokers to quit or switch to less harmful products.
The FDA reports that, despite decades of aggressive efforts to reduce the harmful effects of tobacco – the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United State – smoking still contributes to more than 480,000 deaths each year.
In this proposal, the FDA provides a comprehensive review of current scientific understanding about the role of nicotine in creating and sustaining cigarette addiction for review. Key areas for public input and comments include:
- What potential maximum nicotine level is appropriate to ensure public health?
- Should product standards be implemented all at once or gradually?
- What unintended consequences – the potential for illicit trade or for addicted smokers to compensate for lower nicotine by smoking more, for example – might occur as a result of these measures?