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US plans to introduce new rules to reduce nicotine level in cigarettes, announcement soon: report

In a blow to the tobacco industry, the US government is seeking to reduce nicotine in all cigarettes sold to minimal or non-addictive levels, The Wall Street Journal reported citing officials familiar with the move.

However, the move, which is expected to be announced next week, is unlikely to take effect for several years, as there are a number of hurdles to overcome, the newspaper reported.

The Food and Drug Administration must first outline the proposed rule and then invite public comment before issuing a final order.

In addition, the tobacco companies would most likely take legal action, further delaying the implementation of the policy.

The US government had sought to advance the policy under President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which hopes to reduce cancer deaths by at least 50% over the next 25 years.

The move is hailed as the government’s biggest action to combat smoking since 1998, when tobacco companies paid more than $200 billion to help states pay for health care.

Nicotine is an addictive chemical found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. While nicotine gets people hooked on cigarettes, nicotine itself does not cause cancer, heart disease or lung disease, according to the FDA. These are other harmful compounds in cigarette smoke that are linked to more than 480,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes has been a hotly debated topic at the FDA since the 1990s.

There are different ways to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes. Manufacturers can adjust the blend of tobacco leaves or use different types of paper or filters.

The nicotine can also be cut from the foil during the manufacturing process. A company is using genetic engineering to grow tobacco with 95% less nicotine than a typical tobacco plant, the newspaper reports.

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 11:26am on Tuesday June 21st, 2022