Proposed Rule Expected to Require Reduced Nicotine Levels In Cigarettes by 2023
Yesterday, the Biden Administration announced plans to propose a rule to limit nicotine levels in cigarettes and other finished tobacco products sold in the U.S. to minimally or nonaddictive levels.1 The rule is expected in May 2023 and would be designed with the goal of making it easier for tobacco users to quit and help prevent young people from becoming regular smokers. If successful, the implementation of this rule could have an unprecedented effect in reducing smoking-related deaths and potentially threaten the U.S. tobacco industry.
This plan is in furtherance of the government’s announcement to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years. Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco; tobacco products also contain several harmful chemicals which could cause cancer. Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke cause about 480,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S. – this is more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicide combined.2 According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tobacco costs the U.S. over $225 billion in health care expenditures and more than $180 billion in lost productivity each year. According to experts, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.3
Back in April, in furtherance of the Administration’s goal to reduce tobacco-related disease, death and youth experimentation and addiction, the FDA announced proposed product standards to prohibit menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and prohibit all characterizing flavors (other than tobacco) in cigars.4 According to FDA, the proposed product standards are based on clear science and evidence establishing the addictiveness and harm of these products and build on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which prohibited all characterizing flavors (other than tobacco and menthol) in cigarettes in 2009.