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July: Lowering Nicotine in Cigarettes

2017 Year in Review

One of the biggest headlines in the FDA’s new plan was the intention to explore lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes. The FDA plans to “begin a public dialogue about lowering nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes to nonaddictive levels through achievable product standards” and will soon issue an ANPRM for public comments on the potential health benefits and unintended consequences of doing so.

“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.

It should be noted that while it is within the FDA’s purview to lower the nicotine levels in cigarettes, Congress has prohibited the agency from lowering nicotine levels to zero.

“I give Gottlieb credit for laying it out in a cohesive and comprehensive way,” said Herzog of Wells Fargo. “But it gets very complicated. If they do reduce nicotine in cigarettes, they’re going to have to do so gradually over a long time because of the unintended consequences.”

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