Reducing Nicotine in Cigarettes Would Dramatically Improve Public Health; Reduce Tobacco-Related Cancers

Administration plans to issue a rule requiring tobacco companies to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes to minimally or non-addictive levels

June 21, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today the Biden Administration announced its intention for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put forth a proposed rule to set a maximum level of nicotine in cigarettes and certain tobacco products to an amount that would reduce addiction.

A statement from Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:

“Reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes down to amounts where it can no longer hook new users or keep those who smoke cigarettes addicted would be a tremendous step forward in reducing cancer incidence and deaths. Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of cancer in this country and is responsible for up to one-third of all cancer deaths.

“Strong scientific research has shown that reducing nicotine levels in tobacco products would greatly accelerate progress in preventing and reducing smoking-related death and disease. In 2018 the FDA estimated that cutting nicotine levels in cigarettes would prevent more than 33 million youth and young adults from smoking regularly, prompt 5 million to quit within one year and save more than 8 million lives by the end of the century.

“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 supports the administration’s intent to set maximum levels of nicotine in cigarettes to reduce their addictiveness. Doing so can help prevent the tobacco industry from manipulating their products to addict new users, particularly kids, and maintain their deadly grip on those already addicted.

“To achieve its public health goal, the FDA must propose and finalize an evidence-based rule in the most expedient way possible and have enforcement authorities in place to ensure compliance. 

“This important action should be part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy undertaken across the entire agency and paired with strong tobacco control legislation at the federal, state and local levels.  By taking a comprehensive approach to tobacco control, we can save lives, keep kids from starting a lifelong, deadly addiction and help those addicted to quit, and end the scourge of tobacco on the American people in our lifetime.”


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