FDA to begin rulemaking process to limit nicotine levels in cigarettes

American Heart Association

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) today announced it will begin the rulemaking process to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes. Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization focused on heart and brain health, issued the following statement:

“Reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes could help millions of people quit smoking and prevent millions of others from starting the deadly habit. By reducing the addictiveness of cigarettes, the deadliest consumer products on the market, the FDA will spare countless families nationwide from disease and death caused by tobacco use.

“This is one of the most consequential actions the FDA could take to change the deadly trajectory of tobacco use in this country. By the FDA’s own estimates, lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes to minimally addictive or non-addictive levels would prompt 5 million people who smoke to quit within one year, and 13 million to quit within five years. It would prevent more than 33 million youth and young adults from becoming regular smokers and save more than 8 million lives by the end of this century.

“We urge the FDA to move quickly to issue a proposed rule and to extend its nicotine reduction strategy to other combustible tobacco products such as cigars, hookah and pipe tobacco that addict the people who use them and cause serious health harms.

“We also urge the FDA to establish a nicotine reduction level that helps existing tobacco users quit, prevents new users from becoming dependent on tobacco products and does not lead those experimenting with tobacco use to become regular users. Simply put, the FDA should establish a nicotine concentration that results in the greatest possible reduction in dependence on combustible tobacco products.

“It is essential that the FDA counter misconceptions that reduced-nicotine tobacco products pose fewer health risks than traditional products. The public must be made aware that cigarettes with reduced levels of nicotine remain harmful and deadly.

“The FDA appears poised to dramatically alter the course of tobacco use in this country and make major improvements to public health in the process. We urge the agency to move rapidly forward to reduce nicotine levels in all combustible tobacco products, end the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars, remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market and address targeted industry marketing, especially to communities that bear the greatest burden from tobacco use.

“At the same time, we will continue our efforts to enact strong tobacco endgame policies at the state and community levels in the face of certain attempts by tobacco companies to thwart governmental efforts to prevent people from starting tobacco use and help those who currently use tobacco to quit. The goal of our comprehensive approach is to end tobacco use and nicotine addiction in this country.”

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