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Biden Administration Considering Cutting Nicotine Levels In Cigarettes

The Biden administration is considering establishing two policies that could alter the landscape of tobacco sales in the United States.

The administration is thinking about requiring tobacco firms to decrease nicotine levels to non-addictive levels in all cigarettes sold within the nation. The news was reported by the Wall Street Journal, quoting individuals who are acquainted with the matter. Simultaneously, a cutoff time is approaching for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to settle on whether to make menthol cigarettes illegal in the States. 

Biden Administration Considering Cutting Nicotine Levels In Cigarettes

The Biden administration is attempting to decide whether it ought to lessen nicotine levels along with a menthol ban under the same policy or as a different policy altogether, individuals told the Journal. 

Biden Administration Considering Cutting Nicotine Levels In Cigarettes

Consuming nicotine doesn’t necessarily lead to cancer, heart, or lung diseases. However, it makes smoking more addictive. The nicotine-decrease strategy would bring down the synthetic substances in cigarettes to nonaddictive or insignificantly addictive levels and intend to push smokers to stop or change to less destructive alternatives, the paper said. The FDA declined to make a remark on the potential nicotine guideline as of Monday afternoon. 

While debates and conversations on nicotine level changes are underway at the present, the federal agency is also needed to come to a conclusion before the month is over. The FDA  is needed to inform its decision regarding the prohibition of menthol in cigarettes, as required by the citizen’s petition issued in the year 2013. The prohibition of menthol would aim to control smoking initiation among youngsters, a large number of whom start their addictive journey with menthol cigarettes, the Journal wrote. 

On April 12th of year 2013, the Public Health Law Center along with 18 other organizations who co-signed and recorded an appeal approaching the FDA to make menthol illegal in cigarettes. Almost seven years after the said petition was filed, the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (one of the many organizations who co-signed the petition), sued the federal agency by asserting, in addition to other things, that the FDA, deferred giving a final response to the petition, without a valid reason. The FDA had previously consented to give a final response to the appeal by January 29, as said by the agency itself. 

After that, a supplemental petition along with added research on the supposed damages of menthol cigarettes was submitted in January. (The report can be found on the Public Health Law Center’s site.) After the extra data was presented, the parties consented to stretch out the FDA’s cutoff time to give a final response to April 29. 

“This will give the FDA the much-needed time to thoroughly inspect and study the new data, to guarantee that the response considers all relevant information, to engage with new leadership, and to plan a way ahead,” as said by the FDA representative. 

With regards to menthol, research proposes that menthol cigarettes might be more difficult to quit than nonmenthol cigarettes, especially among African American smokers, as indicated by the FDA. Over 19.5 million individuals smoke menthol cigarettes, the federal agency’s site said. 

The tobacco industry has dismissed the FDA’s discoveries on menthol, the Journal said, and that the two policies would require a long time to be executed and would probably confront a mountain of lawful difficulties. 

Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner under the Trump administration, had proposed a decrease in nicotine back in 2017, however it was abandoned after he left the office in 2019.

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