In a major blow to big tobacco companies, US President Joe Biden has declared war on global producers by proposing a major change.
In a major blow to major tobacco companies, US President Joe Biden has effectively declared war on global producers by proposing to reduce nicotine to non-addictive levels to prevent people from becoming addicted.
If its goals are met, the new US standard could save millions of lives by the end of the century and shape a future in which cigarettes are no longer responsible for addiction and debilitating diseases.
It is not yet known how the move would affect cigarettes sold in Australia, but news.com.au has reached out to major tobacco companies for further clarification. News.com.au has also reached out to the Department of Health for comment.
Research has found that Australian brands of cigarettes have lower puff counts than US brands with similar tar yields but higher tar and nicotine content per puff.
The initiative also faces a major uphill battle as the Food and Drug Administration must develop and then publish a rule that is likely to be challenged by the industry.
“Nicotine is highly addictive,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement. “Making cigarettes and other burned tobacco products minimally addictive or non-addictive would help save lives.”
The process is expected to take several years and could be delayed or derailed by litigation, or reversed by a future government sympathetic to the tobacco lobby.
Nicotine is the “feel good” chemical that binds people to cigarettes, chewing tobacco, vaping devices, and other tobacco products.
“Dependence on nicotine in burned products is the primary reason for the continued use of these products,” the FDA added in its statement.
Thousands of other chemicals found in tobacco and tobacco smoke are responsible for diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes and more.
Although smoking is less common in the United States than in Europe — and even less popular in Australia — and has been declining for years, it is, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 12.5 percent of all US adults are currently cigarette smokers, according to the FDA.
The proposal to limit nicotine levels is supported by research
The announcement was welcomed by tobacco control groups.
“The American Lung Association is pleased to hear that a proposal is coming to reduce levels of the addictive nicotine in cigarettes,” said the group’s CEO, Harold Wimmer.
“Reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes to non-addictive levels is an important step forward for public health, and we urge the FDA to expand this proposal to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.”
Reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes has been a topic of discussion by US authorities for years.
The FDA funded a randomized study published in 2018 that found that “compared to cigarettes with standard nicotine, reduced nicotine content cigarettes reduced nicotine exposure and dependence, and the number of cigarettes smoked.”
Another FDA-funded study found that enacting a nicotine reduction policy in 2020 could eliminate more than 33 million people from becoming regular smokers and prevent more than eight million deaths from tobacco-related diseases by 2100.
The tobacco industry dismisses these studies, saying people are actually smoking more.
Biden has made a “cancer moonshot” a core part of his agenda, and the nicotine reduction policy would fit into his goals at minimal cost.
– with AFP
Originally released when the US was declaring war on big tobacco and proposing a sweeping change to cigarettes