FDA to lower nicotine in cigarettes to ‘non-addictive’ levels

Your cigarette addiction may soon go up in smoke.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it wants to lower the nicotine levels in cigarettes to “non-addictive” levels.

More than 35 million people smoke in the United States — an all-time low of 15% of the population — and more than 480,000 die from it, statistics show.

Victims don’t die from nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco, but from the tar and other pollutants in the smoke. And that’s what’s motivating the FDA, agency Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement Friday.

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MR & PR

“Unless we change course, 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

(Highwaystarz-Photography/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“Because nicotine lives at the core of both the problem and the solution to the question of addiction, 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,” Gottlieb said in a statement.

Each cigarette can contain between 8 mg and 20 mg of nicotine, which is as addictive as heroin, according to the American Heart Association. Eric Donny, a University of Pittsburgh researcher on smoking and nicotine, told the Houston Chronicle that lower nicotine levels won’t cause people to smoke more. Instead, the less nicotine, the less addictive it is, leading to less smoking.

Nicotine is found naturally in tobacco, but its affect is often exacerbated by cigarette companies altering the filters and paper to ensure maximum nicotine ingestion.

Model and Property Released (MR&PR)

The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it wants to lower the nicotine levels in cigarettes to “non-addictive” levels.

(vchal/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The FDA’s decision to regulate nicotine levels is the first time they’ve done so since gaining the power to oversee the industry in 2009.

Since the announcement, Big Tobacco stocks have started to fall. Reuters reported drops of about $26 billion of market value. Altria, which makes Marlboro cigarettes, dropped 16%. British American Tobacco fell 6.8%, their largest daily loss in nine years.

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