The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States has revealed plans to lower nicotine levels in cigarette to what it deems “non-addictive levels.”
The multi-year plan is the most prominent development in the implementation of the 2009 Tobacco Control Act.
FDA Commissioner Gottlieb made his stance clear:
“…addressing the addictive levels of nicotine in combustible cigarettes must be part of the FDA’s strategy for addressing the devastating addiction crisis that is threatening American families.”
The effects were instantly felt by the tobacco industry, with stocks falling rapidly across major companies such as Atria Group Inc (-9.5%) and British American Tobacco (-7.6)
This is yet another development on the tobacco industry that comes hand-in-hand with vaping, and we could have reason to be optimistic. The report also says:
“Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts.”
Rather than continue the trend of shackling vaping to tobacco by failing to distinguish between the two (in both public discourse and enacted policy) the FDA’s statement said that regulations on e-cigarettes will be delayed for a few years:
“…applications for newly-regulated combustible products, such as cigars, pipe tobacco and hookah tobacco, would be submitted by Aug. 8, 2021, and applications for non-combustible products such as ENDS or e-cigarettes would be submitted by Aug. 8, 2022.”
However, the conversation around e-cigarettes is far from over and some regulation may still be on the table. Gottlieb added:
“The agency also will seek input from the public on a variety of significant topics, including approaches to regulating kid-appealing flavors in e-cigarettes and cigars.”
Nicotine reduction could be a severe blow for big tobacco. Vaping is 95% safer than smoking, and the taste and smell smoke – especially when compared to e-liquids, is generally considered unfavourable.
The USA also has various smoking bans enacted on a widely varied jurisdictional level. With these factors at work, addictiveness is the only leg cigarettes have left to stand on.
But there are some sceptics of the move, who fear nicotine reduction could just result in people smoking more cigarettes to feed their habit, or turning to a black market of high-nicotine cigarettes.
Vaping advocates will have to step up and make their voice heard, but an FDA encouraging alternatives is a win for vaping.