WSJ: FDA Wants To End Nicotine Fiends

WSJ headline: Biden Administration Targets Removal of Most Nicotine From Cigarettes

Subheadline: Plan draws on research suggesting very low-nicotine cigarettes are less addictive; tobacco companies say science isn’t conclusive

The Biden administration is moving forward on a plan to mandate the elimination of nearly all nicotine in cigarettes, a policy that would upend the $95 billion U.S. cigarette industry and, health officials say, prompt millions of people to quit smoking.

The plan, unveiled Tuesday as part of the administration’s agenda of regulatory actions, likely wouldn’t take effect for several years. The Food and Drug Administration plans to publish a proposed rule in May 2023, though the agency cautioned that date could change. Then the agency would invite public comments before publishing a final rule. Tobacco companies could then sue, which could further delay the policy’s implementation.

“Nicotine is powerfully addictive,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”

How can we keep selling our product if we can’t keep them addicted?

Smoking is linked to more than 480,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. And tobacco use costs nearly $300 billion a year in direct healthcare and lost productivity, the FDA says.

Cigarette industry executives say the science on low-nicotine cigarettes isn’t conclusive. They say that such a rule would expand the illicit market for cigarettes and could lead to consumer confusion around the health risks of very low-nicotine cigarettes. There is widespread misunderstanding in the U.S. about the health risks of nicotine. An FDA study in 2017 found that about 75% of people either were unsure of the relationship between nicotine and cancer or incorrectly believed that nicotine caused cancer.