FDA wants to cut nico­tine in cig­a­rettes

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM - — Bloomberg News

WASH­ING­TON — The U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion will work to cut the amount of nico­tine in cig­a­rettes to non­ad­dic­tive lev­els, with the goal of pre­vent­ing thou­sands of to­bacco-re­lated deaths a year.

While the FDA’s ef­fort is likely to be heav­ily op­posed by cig­a­rette mak­ers such as Al­tria Group Inc. and Bri­tish Amer­i­can To­bacco PLC, the move by the agency is aimed at one of the U.S.’s big­gest causes of pre­ventable ill­ness that the FDA says is re­spon­si­ble for 480,000 deaths a year as well as hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars in med­i­cal costs and lost pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“The over­whelm­ing amount of death and dis­ease at­trib­ut­able to to­bacco is caused by ad­dic­tion to cig­a­rettes — the only le­gal con­sumer prod­uct that, when used as in­tended, will kill half of all long-term users,” FDA Com­mis­sioner Scott Got­tlieb said in a state­ment an­nounc­ing the move. “Un­less we change course, 5.6 mil­lion young peo­ple alive to­day will die pre­ma­turely later in life from to­bacco use.”

The move threat­ens to deal a crush­ing blow to to­bacco com­pa­nies, which are al­ready cop­ing with shrink­ing cig­a­rette vol­umes in the U.S. It also puts pres­sure on the in­dus­try to speed so-called re­duced-risk prod­ucts to mar­ket.

Shares of to­bacco com­pa­nies plum­meted af­ter the an­nounce­ment. Al­tria dropped as much as 19 per­cent, the big­gest in­tra­day de­cline since 1999, and was down 18 per­cent to $61 at 10:44 a.m. in New York. Bri­tish Amer­i­can To­bacco’s stock fell as much as 11 per­cent.

The FDA gained over­sight of to­bacco prod­ucts in 2009 through the Fam­ily Smok­ing Pre­ven­tion and To­bacco Con­trol Act. It plans to take in­put on the pro­posal, with the goal of cut­ting down on the num­ber of fu­ture smok­ers, ac­cord­ing to the agency.

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