Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
June 21, 2022 – The White House today announced an effort to require tobacco companies to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes sold in the U.S.
The Department of Health and Human Services posted a notice that details plans for a new rule to create a maximum allowed amount of nicotine in certain tobacco products. The FDA would take the action, the notice said, “to reduce addictiveness to certain tobacco products, thus giving addicted users a greater ability to quit.” The product standard would also help nonsmokers interested in trying tobacco, mainly youth, from starting to smoke and become regulars.
“Lowering nicotine levels to minimally addictive or non-addictive levels would decrease the likelihood that future generations of young people become addicted to cigarettes and help more currently addicted smokers to quit,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, MD, said in a statement.
The FDA, in charge of regulating cigarettes, issues a proposed rule when changes are discussed.. That would be followed by a period for public comments before a final rule could be issued.
The proposed rule was first reported by The Washington Post.
The FDA in 2018 published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that estimated that a potential limit on nicotine in cigarettes could, by the year 2100, prevent more than 33 million people from becoming regular smokers, and prevent the deaths of more than 8 million people from tobacco-related illnesses.
The action to reduce nicotine levels would fit in with President Joe Biden’s goal of reducing cancer death rates by half over 25 years. Each year, according to the American Cancer Society, about 480,000 deaths (about 1 in 5) are related to smoking. Currently, about 34 million American adults still smoke cigarettes.
Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, called the proposed rule a