FDA announces plan to cut nicotine in cigarettes

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73149440PL006_France_Introd

In a major regulatory shift, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Friday to its intention to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes while exploring measures to move smokers toward e-cigarettes.

Gottlieb also stressed that, while e-cigarette companies should have more time to come into compliance with the FDA's regulations, the products should never find their way into the hands and mouths of children.

The FDA says tobacco is responsible for 480,000 American deaths each year, and $300bn (£228bn) in medical costs.

In a press release, published on the agency's website on Friday, the FDA said it will ensure it has the proper scientific and regulatory foundation to efficiently and effectively implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Mr. Gottlieb said the FDA's new approach would consider "a continuum of risk for nicotine delivery", from combustible products such as cigarettes to nicotine-replacement therapies such as nicotine patches and gums.

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There are obstacles to the plan, however, including figuring out to deal with the people now addicted to nicotine and finding the best ways to prevent people from smoking far more cigarettes in order to get the psychoactive effects of nicotine that they crave.

The FDA also wants new rules to address flavored tobacco products - including menthol - and kids. The agency added that the toll also has a monetary cost, with "direct health care and lost productivity costs totaling almost $300 billion a year".

Vector Group, maker of Pyramid and Liggett Select, was down five percent, while in London British American Tobacco had fallen close to seven percent. This costly process would, in practice, have resulted in the near complete elimination of harm-reduction tools like e-cigarettes from the market.

Until now, US health officials have stuck with an abstinence-only message to the public.

The plan had an immediate effect on the stock market. The original deadline was November 8, 2018, and the four-year extension is supposed to provide more time for public comment and industry guidance as part of a "comprehensive regulatory plan" that aims to strike "an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging development of innovative tobacco products that may be less risky than cigarettes".

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