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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2424

Historic’ plan to reduce nicotine in cigarettes

By Manjari Peiris

The Food and Drug Administration on (FDA) last week took the first concrete action to reduce nicotine in cigarettes to make them much less addictive, opening a regulatory process described as a “historic first step” by the agency's top official.

Commissioner Scott Gottlieb unveiled revealed an “advance notice of proposed rulemaking,” the earliest step in what promises to be a long, complicated regulatory effort to lower nicotine levels to be minimally addictive or non-addictive.

That FDA-funded analysis found that slashing nicotine levels could push the smoking rate down to 1.4 percent from the current 15 percent of adults. That in turn would result in 8 million fewer tobacco-related deaths through the end of the century — which Gottlieb termed “an undeniable public health benefit.”

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

Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products said , " many adults try to quit smoking each year but fail because nicotine is such an addictive substance. Cutting the nicotine level would not only help them succeed, but it also could keep young people who may be experimenting with cigarettes from becoming addicted".

According to the FDA, the nicotine notice will be open for public comment for 90 days. FDA officials are seeking input on what the maximum nicotine level in cigarettes should be and whether such a limit should be implemented all at once or gradually. Nicotine levels can be manipulated by leaf blending, chemical extraction and genetic engineering.

The 2009 Tobacco Control Act gave the FDA the power to regulate tobacco, though not to ban it.

The FDA also said that it plans to soon issue two other advance notices: one on the role that flavors, including menthol, play in the use and cessation of use of tobacco products; and the other on the regulation of premium cigars.

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

“It would be the most significant public health proposal we have seen from the U.S. government in the last 20 years,” Myers said. No regulatory agency in the world has seriously proposed reducing nicotine in cigarettes, he said.

“While this issue has been discussed conceptually for years, this is first time we have a government agency saying it is achievable, feasible and can be implemented in a way that doesn't cause serious negative consequences,” Myers said.

- Asian Tribune -

Historic’ plan to reduce nicotine in cigarettes
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