The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on July 28, 2017, announced an elaborate plan to curb the levels of tobacco addiction in the United States. The FDA will reach out to the public to seek their agreement on lowering nicotine in combustible cigarettes to non-addictive levels. This might see the agency issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), to assess the potential public health benefits and risks associated with lowering nicotine in cigarettes.
The FDA will also seek public opinion on the role of flavors, including menthol, in tobacco products in luring youth and if they can help smokers switch to potentially less harmful sources of nicotine. The agency also looks for comments and scientific data related to the impact of using premium cigars, which were included in the FDA’s 2016 rule, on public health.
Going forward, the FDA will focus on nicotine and addiction problems in its tobacco regulation efforts. It wants people to know about the risks associated with products used to deliver nicotine. Nicotine, an addictive substance, becomes more dangerous when inhaled as smoke particles through combustible cigarettes. Therefore, the administration is also planning to encourage innovative tobacco products that are less harmful than cigarettes.
Preventing tobacco addiction
Significantly, almost 90 percent of the adult smokers in the U.S. smoked their first cigarette before the age of 18, while nearly 2,500 new smokers join the league every day. In such a scenario, lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes and introducing potentially less harmful alternatives can be an effective first step to prevent future generations from developing a tobacco addiction. At the same time, it can also help people with a tobacco addiction to quit and lead a healthy life.
“Because nicotine lives at the core of both the problem and the solution to the question of addiction, addressing the addictive levels of nicotine in combustible cigarettes must be part of the FDA’s strategy for addressing the devastating, addiction crisis that is threatening American families,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
The new nicotine regulation will aim at protecting children from falling prey to addiction while significantly reducing tobacco-related diseases and associated fatalities. Tobacco use, the leading contributor to preventable disease in the U.S., is responsible for 480,000 deaths every year. In addition, tobacco costs the country nearly $300 billion a year in the form of productivity loss and direct health care expenditure. The proposed changes will not affect any present requisites for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. The new policy will only cover newly regulated tobacco products, including cigars and e-cigarettes.
Studies show that cigarette smoking can lead to illegal drug use. However, addiction to harmful drugs can be treated with timely medical intervention. If a person is grappling with drug addiction, he/she should immediately seek professional assistance from a reputed mental health care provider.
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