Biden administration strives to remove almost all nicotine from cigarettes

The Biden administration is moving ahead with a plan to mandate the elimination of almost all nicotine in cigarettes, a policy that would upend America’s $95 billion cigarette industry and, health officials say, spur millions of people to do so to quit smoking.

The plan, unveiled on Tuesday as part of the government’s regulatory action agenda, would likely not come into effect for several years. The Food and Drug Administration plans to release a proposed rule in May 2023, although the agency warned the date could change. Then the agency would solicit public comments before releasing a final rule. Tobacco companies could then sue, which could further delay implementation of the directive.

“Nicotine is highly addictive,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement Tuesday. “Reducing nicotine levels to minimally addictive or non-addictive levels would make future generations of young people less likely to become addicted to cigarettes and help more currently addicted smokers to quit.”

The move would be the largest move by the US government to curb smoking since a landmark legal settlement in 1998, when tobacco companies agreed to pay more than $200 billion to help states fund health care. As part of the settlement, the companies also agreed on various agreements Marketing Restrictionsincluding a ban on free product samples and billboard advertising.

That cigarette smoking rate has been declining in the US for decades but rose slightly in 2020 when the pandemic hit. About 12.5% ​​of US adults, or 30.8 million people, were cigarette smokers as of 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Brian Lowry

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