US government at war with cigarettes
The White House wants to dramatically reduce the nicotine content of cigarettes sold in the United States to levels low enough to prevent smokers from becoming addicted as part of a plan to fight cancer, according to media reports Tuesday, June 21.
The announcement will be made later today, the Washington Post reports and is part of a broad health program to reduce cancer deaths, which President Joe Biden has pledged to cut by 50 percent over 25 years.
The dreaded disease, cancer, is the second leading cause of death in the United States after cardiovascular disease. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the country with 480,000 tobacco-related deaths recorded each year.
But according to the Washington Post, this possible announcement is only the beginning of a long process against which the powerful tobacco industry should fight.
The FDA, which regulates the tobacco market, is expected to present its proposed rules, a process that could take a year, the Washington Post said, citing a source close to the matter.
The new proposals will then be published and open for public comment. Each of those comments – potentially tens of thousands – will have to be reviewed, as required by law.
The FDA, which has long favoured lowering the nicotine level in cigarettes, pledged in April 2021 to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes, a move that will “save hundreds of thousands of lives.”
Mentholated cigarettes are seen as a gateway to smoking, particularly encouraging young people to start smoking and are associated with greater addiction.
Donald Trump’s administration had previously banned most e-cigarette flavours while exempting menthol.
And in late 2019, Congress had passed a law raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes nationwide from 18 to 21.