New proposed Food and Drug Administration rules could mark the biggest change to tobacco law because Congress mandated warning labels on cigarettes in 1970.
The proposals would require tobacco companies to reduce the nicotine content in smoking solutions. The FDA wouldn’t define how much the smoke content would need to be reduced other than to say, “significantly.”
“We’re seeking to create the riskiest goods, which are combustible smokes, not as addictive,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told Fox News.
Advances in tobacco plant genetic modification have enabled scientists to reduce nicotine content, as have leeching techniques, not as coffee decaffeination.
Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Told Fox News that if approved, the new regulations will place tobacco companies to the evaluation.
“If you eliminate the nicotine, should you reduce the addictiveness of the item, the smoker may really have a real free option,” he said. “Phillip Morris International has been promoting itself as a company that wishes to move current tobacco users from products that kill them to goods that don’t kill them. We’ll find out if they mean it.”
Some question the prospective effectiveness of the proposed changes, stressing that if nicotine is reduced appreciably, long time adult smokers may seek black market choices to get their nicotine fix.
“They find that it helps them focus. It calms them,” said Dr. Sally Satel, a psychiatrist who has written extensive about addiction at the American Enterprise Institute. “All these are the individuals who often have quite a bit of trouble stopping, which explains exactly why a safer way to get nicotine is a godsend for people like this.”
As a region of the tobacco law proposition, the FDA also wishes to further study smokeless alternatives, such as nicotine patches and vaping.
“We need to properly evaluate them and put them through a proper regulatory process. That’s going to take a number of years, therefore we have postponed certain regulations so that we have the opportunity to do that,” said FDA’s Gottlieb.
Critics assert the FDA has been slow to realize the benefits of vaping and e-cigarettes. A British government study found an increase in vaping was matched with a corresponding drop in smoking.
Additionally, it found strong evidence that vaping has been tremendously effective in helping people stop smoking.
British investigators also found that e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than smoking.
Even though the FDA embarks on the vaping research, it has simultaneously launched an educational advertising campaign to dissuade children and adolescents from vaping.
Doug McKelway joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in November 2010 and serves as a Washington-based correspondent. Click here to learn more on Doug McKelway.
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