Smokers in the United States may have to turn to alternative, safer, sources for their fix of nicotine if reports are to be believed. President Joe Biden’s government is contemplating forcing cigarette manufacturers to reduce the amount of nicotine in their products to just a smidgen, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
REDUCING THE NICOTINE IN CIGARETTES COULD PROMPT SMOKERS TO QUIT
The US Food and Drug Administration is currently considering whether to pursue a policy that would ban menthol cigarettes, they need to make a decision by 29 April and according to the WSJ, people in the know say Biden’s government is also weighing up reducing the nicotine levels in all cigarettes.
Reducing the nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels, could result in millions of American smokers quitting the habit or switching to an alternative that is less detrimental to their health, including nicotine patches or e-cigarettes.
The ban on menthol cigarettes, on the other hand, is meant to prevent people from taking up smoking in the first place, as menthol cigarettes have been known to appeal to young people.
According to WSJ, both policies will likely take years to implement, as the tobacco industry will definitely push back.
Nicotine may not cause cancer or heart and lung disease but it leads to cigarette addiction, which is results in approximately 480 000 deaths in the US annually, according to the FDA. The administration said smokers were more likely to quit or seek ‘healthier’ alternatives if nicotine was eliminated from cigarettes.
TOBACCO COMPANIES TAKE A HIT ON THE STOCK MARKET
Once the report that the Biden administration was considering reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes made the headlines on Monday, 19 April, tobacco company stocks took a dip.
The Altria Group, which makes Marlboro cigarettes, saw its shares tumble by more than 6%, while British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International shed 2% and 1% respectively.
“Any action that the FDA takes must be based on science and evidence and must consider the real-world consequences of such actions, including the growth of an illicit market and the impact on hundreds of thousands of jobs from the farm to local stores across the country,” said Altria spokesperson George Parman to CNBC.