US regulators Thursday opened the door to slashing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes in order to make them less addictive, a move that could mean millions fewer smokers in the years to come.
The US Food and Drug Administration said it is seeking public input and will begin “to explore a product standard to lower nicotine in cigarettes to minimally or non-addictive levels.”
Despite decades of anti-smoking campaigns, nearly half a million people die in the United States each year from cigarette smoking, which costs almost $300 billion a year in direct health care and lost productivity, the FDA said.
“We’re taking a pivotal step today that could ultimately bring us closer to our vision of a world where combustible cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction -– making it harder for future generations to become addicted in the first place and allowing more currently addicted smokers to quit or switch to potentially less harmful products,” said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
A study released Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine projected that cutting nicotine to a non-addictive level could mean five million fewer smokers in the first year of implementation.
Within five years, another eight million fewer people would smoke, and by 2060, the smoking rate in the United States could drop to 1.4 percent, down from its present level of 15 percent, said the report.
The number of lives saved could reach 8.5 million by century’s end, it said.
Tobacco executives from Altria and R.J. Reynolds expressed interest in the FDA proposal and vowed to work closely with the agency on what is expected to be a process lasting several years.
“Today’s advance notice is a request for information, not a proposed rule, and is the first step in a multi-year process that will require the agency to examine and resolve many complex issues,” said Murray Garnick, executive vice president and general counsel of Altria Group, Inc., which includes tobacco giant Philip Morris.
“As FDA has acknowledged, any proposed nicotine standard would need to be part of a comprehensive package,” he added.
“Altria has already been preparing for any reasonable potential standard, and we plan to participate in every step of this process.”
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids called the FDA plan “bold” and urged the agency to act quickly and set a hard deadline.
“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to greatly accelerate progress in reducing tobacco use – the nation’s No. 1 cause of preventable death — and bring us closer to eliminating the death and disease it causes,” said the group’s president, Matthew Myers.
Trump openly solicits payment to US treasury for his ‘approval’ of TikTok sale – which he is forcing
President Donald Trump says he is allowing Microsoft to purchase the U.S. assets of the popular Beijing-based TikTok social media video sharing app, in a sale Trump personally is forcing.
In discussing what he sees as the broad portions of an agreement the President used a real estate term to openly solicit the payment that would have to be made to the U.S. Treasury.
"I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the U.S. Treasury of the United States, because we're making it possible for this deal to happen," Trump told reporters Monday afternoon.
Andrew Cuomo rips Trump like never before: ‘This was the worst government blunder in modern history’
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) on Monday accused President Donald Trump of presiding over "the worse government blunder in modern history."
At his daily COVID-19 briefing, Cuomo said that it was time for the president to hit the "reset button" on his handling of the pandemic.
"If we don't tell the truth on the reset, COVID will never end," the New York governor explained. "It will ricochet across the country. It will just bounce back and forth."
"This was a colossal blunder -- how COVID was handled by this federal government," he continued. "Shame on all of you. Six months, lives lost. Hit the reset button, yes."
Trump snaps at Jim Acosta for reminding him of coronavirus death toll: ‘Fake news CNN’
President Donald Trump on Monday snapped at CNN's Jim Acosta when he reminded the president that the novel coronavirus so far has killed 155,000 Americans.
During a question-and-answer session with reporters, the president boasted that the United States had done an "amazing" job at handling the COVID-19 pandemic, at which point Acosta interrupted him and tried to ask him about the 155,000 people who have died from the disease in just five months.
"The U.S. has so many deaths," Acosta said.
"Hold it!" Trump replied.
"So many countries around the world..."
"Fake news CNN," he said. "Hold it. We have done a great job in this country. We haven't been given enough -- not me, Vice President Pence, the task force -- have not been given the kind of credit."