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FDA Makes Moves to Curb Nicotine Addiction

March 16, 2018

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Moffitt Researcher Calls it a Crucial Step

By Kim Polacek

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is making a bold move to help smokers kick the habit. The FDA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, published today in the Federal Register, which would require tobacco companies to reduce the nicotine in cigarettes, making them much less addictive.

Cigarettes can contain anywhere from 8 to 20 milligrams of nicotine depending on the flavor and strength. Studies funded by the FDA found that lowering nicotine levels to 0.4 milligrams per cigarette could push smoking rates from 15 percent of Americans to 1.4 percent. The FDA says that could result in 8 million fewer tobacco-related deaths by the end of the century.

Researchers in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Tobacco Research and Intervention Program have contributed to some of these large-scale studies validating the potential benefits of very low nicotine content cigarettes.

“By recognizing that tobacco products exist on a continuum of risk, the FDA’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking is a crucial step towards moving people away from the most harmful tobacco product (cigarettes) while promoting alternatives that are far less toxic,” said Moffitt researcher David Drobes, PhD. “While it will be challenging to fully implement this tobacco regulatory framework, it is heartening that final decisions will be based on a thorough review of the scientific evidence.”

The nicotine notice will be open for public comment for 90 days.  The FDA is looking for input on what the maximum nicotine level should be and whether or not the implementation should be immediate or occur gradually.

The FDA has two other advance notices in the works: one on the role that flavors play in the use of tobacco products; and the other is regarding the regulation of premium cigars.