Major Blow Dealt To Big Tobacco By FDA

By Bryan Le 07/31/17
The announcement had an immediate effect on Big Tobacco's stock prices.
Cigarette being cut in half by a pair of scissors.
The move would cut the addictive power of tobacco products.

The Food and Drug Administration has set its sights on a new goal: reducing the amount of addictive nicotine in every cigarette. Announcing this historic move on Friday, the administration hopes to further reduce smoking rates in the United States.

"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," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. "Unless we change course, 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use."

As soon as the FDA’s goals were announced, Big Tobacco's stocks fell almost immediately. "It's a real blow to Big Tobacco, there's no question about that," said NPR's Rob Stein, "and tobacco stocks have already started to fall.”

Cigar, pipe tobacco and hookah tobacco will have to submit product review applications by August 8th, 2021 if they want to continue marketing and selling in the United States. Newer, smoke-free nicotine delivery systems such as vaping and e-cigarettes will be required to submit applications by August 8th, 2022. The FDA also plans to hold public comment sessions on what to do about the “kid-appealing flavors” that smokeless nicotine product catalogs are rife with.

This issue is especially pressing as researchers have noted that teens who vape are more likely to become cigarette smokers. Around 40% of 10th graders have vaped, according to researchers.

“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 Gottlieb. “Our approach to nicotine must be accompanied by a firm foundation of rules and standards for newly-regulated products. To be successful all of these steps must be done in concert and not in isolation.”

Smoking has consequences beyond lung problems. Studies have shown it can change a smoker’s DNA (making them more prone to cancer), doubles the risk of alcoholic relapse, and even hurt your job prospects—a study found that smokers make $5 less an hour than non-smokers.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter