Biden Administration to Announce Plan to Lower Nicotine Levels in Cigarettes: Report

The policy would require tobacco companies to lower the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to minimally or nonaddictive levels

man smoking a cigarette
Photo: Getty

The Biden Administration is expected to announce a policy that would require tobacco companies to lower the amount of nicotine in cigarettes sold in the United States to minimally or nonaddictive levels, according to The Washington Post.

Though the outlet reports it could take the Food and Drug Administration at least a year to issue a proposed rule, it would likely be challenged in court by pro-tobacco groups.

"This would be really historic," Dorothy Hatsukami, professor at the University of Minnesota, told The Wall Street Journal. "You can actually change smoking behavior."

Mitch Zeller, recently retired director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, told the Post that despite the possibility of it taking years for the policy to take effect, it's still necessary.

"The most important, game-changing policies take a long time, but it is worth the wait because, at the end of the day, the only cigarettes that will be available won't be capable of addicting future generations of kids," he said.

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Man Smoking Cigarette

According to a scientific study based on the expected policy, cigarettes with very low nicotine levels result in people becoming less dependent on cigarettes and making more attempts to quit smoking.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, often leading to lung cancer, respiratory disorders, heart disease, stroke, and other serious illnesses, per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The CDC also reports that cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States.

Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told the Post that reducing nicotine levels "would produce the greatest drop in cancer rates and make the biggest difference" of any public health measure under discussion by the administration.

In April, the FDA proposed banning menthol cigarettes. Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who worked under the Trump administration, had previously said he would propose a ban on menthol products, but did not before leaving. The House of Representatives has also voted for a bill that would ban all flavored tobacco products, but it did not come to the floor in the Senate.

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