The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday it would reduce the legal nicotine content in cigarettes to avoid creating addictions among smokers.
This is the first time that US authorities have directly addressed the substance responsible for tobacco dependence.
Up to now, tobacco control measures have been limited to warnings about the dangers of smoking on cigarette packs, tobacco taxes, and deterrence campaigns aimed primarily at young people.
The vast majority of tobacco-related deaths and diseases result from cigarette addiction, the only legal consumer product that kills half of all people who smoke for a long time.
The FDA also announced that it would postpone the entry into force of regulations on cigars and electronic cigarettes for several years. The obligation for manufacturers of electronic cigarettes to obtain the green light from the FDA before marketing their products is also delayed.
Manufacturers of cigars, pipe tobacco and hookahs will thus have to comply with the new rules by 2021, while manufacturers of electronic cigarettes will have an additional year.
FDA administrator Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the measures announced Friday are part of a broader plan to discourage the US population from smoking conventional cigarettes and instead opt for less harmful products, Such as electronic cigarettes.
Youth targeted by electronic cigarettes
Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the FDA’s announcement “represents a bold and comprehensive approach with the potential to accelerate progress in reducing smoking and mortality.”
However, the leader of this very influential NGO in the fight against tobacco among young people in the United States is somewhat reluctant.
In particular, he fears that the postponement of a regulation on cigars and vapors could allow “products aimed at seducing young people like electronic cigarettes with fruity flavors to remain on the market with little supervision by the health authorities”.
The FDA insists that it intends to examine the possibility of regulating these flavors, which are also used in some cigars, and that it even plans to ban menthol in all products containing tobacco.
The tobacco industry faces a steady decline in the number of smokers in the United States, which has reached a record level with only 15% of adults who say they smoke.
This trend is also evident among young people, waking up the hope of the public health authorities to see the birth of a generation of non-smokers.