The United States wants to radically reduce the nicotine content of cigarettes
Sylvie Claire / June 22, 2022
Joe Biden's administration announced Tuesday that it wants to dramatically reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes sold in the United States to levels low enough to prevent smokers from becoming addicted as part of a plan to fight cancer.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates the tobacco market, is set to present its proposed rules; these are likely to be bitterly contested by the tobacco industry. Nicotine is highly addictive, FDA chief Robert Califf said in a statement. Making cigarettes and other burned tobacco products minimally or not addictive would help save lives. The process is expected to take years and could be delayed by litigation or reversed by a future administration sympathetic to the tobacco lobby. The initiative is part of a broad health program to reduce cancer deaths, which President Joe Biden has promised to reduce by 50% over 25 years. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States after cardiovascular disease.
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the country with 480,000 tobacco-related deaths recorded each year. The FDA, which has long favored reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes, pledged in April 2021 to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes, a move that will save hundreds of thousands of lives. Donald Trump's administration had previously banned most e-cigarette flavors, while exempting menthol. And in late 2019, Congress had passed a law raising the minimum age to buy tobacco and electronic cigarettes nationwide from 18 to 21.