Lower Nicotine Levels Mean Job Losses, Altria Says

Major tobacco companies weigh in as FDA public comment period on nicotine closes

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- The consequences of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) possibly requiring lower nicotine levels in cigarettes could range from substantial job losses to an increase in illicit trade, according to major tobacco manufacturers.

The FDA had opened up a public comment period on the topic of lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes, which ended July 16. In a report from Bloomberg, officials with Altria Group Inc., Richmond, Va., warned that such a move could eliminate as many as 951,000 jobs, including tobacco growers and workers in manufacturing, wholesale, distribution and retail.

ITG Brands, Greensboro, N.C., also weighed in, according to the news agency, saying that lower nicotine levels would result in an increase in black-market activity. Such a shift would most likely lead to growing access of tobacco products to underage users, ITG officials said.

Officials with Reynolds American Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C., told the FDA that they might need as many as 20 years to be able to meet lower-nicotine standards, depending on the agency’s rules, Bloomberg reported.

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