The US authority FDA announces a drastic reduction of the nicotine level in cigarettes. The nicotine in cigarettes should be reduced by 80% and thus also reduce the risk of addiction.
Nicotine is naturally found in tobacco plants and is the reason for the addiction of smoking. Currently, there is no limit for nicotine in cigarettes.
Reasons for the reduction are on the one hand the health risks which result from smoking and on the other hand studies, which show that humans could smoke less or even stop, if they change to cigarettes with lower nicotine levels.
“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,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “Our approach to nicotine must be accompanied by a firm foundation of rules and standards for newly-regulated products. To be successful all of these steps must be done in concert and not in isolation.”
Cancer researchers are warning
In Germany, ingredients in cigarettes are regulated in the Tobacco Products Act. A drastic reduction in nicotine level would be possible here, too. However, cancer researchers warn that a low nicotine level could make smoking even more dangerous, because:
- the smoke and its components, inhaled by the smoker, are more harmful to health than nicotine
- due to the low nicotine level, smokers might smoke more often – this increases the health risk
Therefore, terms such as “mild”, “low” or “light” are now prohibited in tobacco advertising.
Despite all the risks, German cancer researchers consider the FDA’s plans to be advanced – but only if the nicotine content is lowered below the threshold of 2.4 mg nicotine per gram of tobacco. With higher limits or a step-by-step approach, there is a risk that smokers will smoke more often than before.
To complement these larger policy considerations, the FDA plans to issue foundational rules to make the product review process more efficient, predictable, and transparent for manufacturers, while upholding the agency’s public health mission.