Reducing nicotine in cigarettes

Blog Post created by dr_hays on Oct 4, 2017

In June 2009 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was authorized to regulate cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco products.  In June 2016 this authority was extended to all tobacco products.  The rule empowered the FDA to regulate marketing, strengthen warning labels, and take measures to reduce youth smoking.  The FDA was limited in its ability to recommend changes to cigarette design or elimination of harmful compounds in cigarette smoke.


The new FDA commissioner recently announced a new strategy. The agency is delaying a plan to regulate E-cigarettes and vape devices, and embarking upon a plan to reduce the nicotine content in cigarettes.  The idea is that, without nicotine, cigarettes will not be addicting.  While nicotine is not one of the many toxic compounds in cigarettes that causes the myriad of health problems, and hundreds of thousands of deaths each year; however, it is the chemical that causes the addiction to cigarettes.


Reducing nicotine in cigarettes, so that young people do not become addicted and smokers will not maintain their addiction, has been a strategy recommended by some public health researchers and advocates since 1988.  The real life effect has never been demonstrated in actual practice.   Tobacco stocks did drop after the announcement, which may be an indicator of the impact of nicotine reduction.


We would be interested in hearing your thoughts about this new FDA plan.