The Biden administration unveiled a plan Tuesday to remove nearly all nicotine from cigarettes in America in an effort to further curb smoking.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it plans to propose a rule in May 2023 which would set a maximum nicotine limit for all cigarettes in the United States, and would ban the import of traditional nicotine-heavy cigarettes. The rule could take years to come into effect, though, as the agency will allow a public comment period following the rule proposal and would likely face litigation from big tobacco companies, whose stock prices plummeted following the announcement.
Breaking News: The FDA is set to propose a reduction of nicotine in cigarettes to help prevent addiction. It’s likely to face fierce industry opposition. https://t.co/BKvxc1JeFK
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 21, 2022
“Nicotine is powerfully addictive,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said Tuesday. “Lowering nicotine levels to minimally addictive or non-addictive levels would decrease the likelihood that future generations of young people become addicted to cigarettes and help more currently addicted smokers to quit.”
The agency acknowledged that nicotine isn’t the component of cigarettes that make them so toxic to health. However, it said it’s the key ingredient which makes smoking so hard to quit, and nearly eliminating it from the products will reduce “youth use, addiction and death.”
The FDA published a study in 2018 which found that a nicotine limit on cigarettes would lead to 13 million adult smokers quitting within five years.
Major tobacco companies like Altria and Reynolds have already expressed opposition to the potential rule, claiming that the FDA should instead encourage addicts to switch to less harmful products. “We do actually support the overarching goal here, which is to transition smokers from cigarettes to smoke-free products,” said Altria general counsel Murray Garnick to The Wall Street Journal. “We just think that the better way is to create a robust market of FDA-authorized smoke-free products.”
The Biden administration has taken numerous steps to try and limit nicotine addiction and tobacco usage already. Earlier this year the FDA announced its intention to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes, and Wednesday reports surfaced that the agency is planning to take popular e-cigarette brand Juul off the market.