FDA Commissioner’s Move to Curb Cigarette Smoking Through Reduced Nicotine Levels Would Have Dramatic Impact on Public Health

Statement of American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network President Chris Hansen

March 15, 2018

WASHINGTON – March 15, 2018 – Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb today announced an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) aimed at reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes to levels that no longer cause or sustain addiction.

A statement from ACS CAN president Chris Hansen follows:

“We applaud Commissioner Gottlieb for taking deliberate action to address the leading cause of preventable disease and death in this country – an addiction that is still killing more than 480,000 Americans every year. Such an action is a game changer that could transform the marketplace.

“If based on thorough science and understanding, the reduction of nicotine to a non-addictive level in combustible tobacco products could enable the millions of tobacco users who want to quit to do so far more easily. In the case of new smokers—most of whom are children and adolescents—it could prevent addiction from the outset.

“Research into the science of nicotine addiction and consumer behavior highlights that the cigarette industry has long engineered and manipulated its products to enhance addictiveness by more effectively targeting the brains and central nervous systems of consumers.

“ACS CAN strongly advocates that maximum levels of nicotine be set for all combustible tobacco products, not just cigarettes. Such an action can prevent tobacco industry manipulation of keeping smokers addicted to the deadliest products – those that burn tobacco.

“To achieve its public health goal, the FDA must issue an evidence-based final rule in the most expedient way possible and have enforcement authorities in place to ensure compliance and prevent product manipulation by the tobacco industry. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) will respond strongly to the proposal in support of an evidence-based product standard that will reduce morbidity and mortality from tobacco use.

“This important action by Commissioner Gottlieb should be part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy undertaken across the entire agency. The FDA must use the full force of its authority in a scientific and transparent manner to address not only nicotine levels in tobacco products, but flavoring in products, review of new products and modified risk claims, and innovative opportunities to promote cessation medications.  By taking a comprehensive approach to tobacco control, we can save lives, keep kids from starting lifelong, deadly addictions and end the scourge of tobacco on the American people in our lifetime.”


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