Usually, the Food and Drug Administration and the tobacco industry don’t totally get along. But after the FDA changed its tobacco policy in a major way, the tobacco industry — surprisingly — isn’t totally fighting it. The changes are all focused on making sure that fewer people become addicted to cigarettes and that they can control their addiction safely. This biggest thing this means? The FDA is proposing a reduction of how much nicotine goes into cigarettes.
In addition to changing how much nicotine can go into a cigarette, the agency also wants to better regulate other “electronic nicotine delivery systems,” or e-cigarettes, so that they’re much safer. Over the course of the past year, there have been many reports of e-cigarette batteries actually exploding in people’s faces, which is something the agency obviously hopes to change.
The FDA said in a statement:
The new guidelines will bring the nicotine levels in cigarettes down to almost non-addictive levels.
When the FDA released the new regulations, people were shocked and tobacco company shares dropped drastically. Normally, Big Business keeps a close eye on regulation changes like this. But for companies like Philip Morris, the new rules aren’t totally awful for its business, namely because they’re super invested in the e-cigarette market. The new guidelines will give it a chance to properly develop these new products.
Instead of banning cigarettes altogether or making them harder to sell, the FDA is just focused on making them safer and somewhat less appealing, especially to kids, which the industry seems to be OK with for now.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement, “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. Unless we change course, 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use.”
Hopefully, the new changes help current and would-be smokers quit, in addition to making e-cigs safer for people who use them.