In the last fifty years, the number of people who smoke has gone down tremendously, but smoking accounts for one in every five deaths in America. The FDA wants to lower this by mandating a cut in the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. But will this merely encourage smokers to find alternate sources of nicotine?
According to Dr. Eric Donny, if an 85% reduction of nicotine happens in cigarettes, we will see fewer smokers and fewer kids getting addicted. Dr. Neal Benowitz says that the plan to lower nicotine in cigarettes might lead some to find a “healthier” alternative like e-cigarettes. Dr. Joshua Sharfstein adds that e-cigarettes have been in the middle of a great debate, with some asking whether they are a great tool to quit smoking or a gateway substance for kids to try real cigarettes. The reduction might push people to cleaner forms of nicotine consumption, perhaps even quitting smoking.
Dr. Stanton Glantz, asserts this reduction is not good for the future, because it pushes back regulation of e-cigarettes, which is the real issue. Dr. Glantz believes the FDA is overselling the reduction in nicotine for tradition cigarettes and giving e-cigarettes a pass on any regulation. Some even think this could potentially create a black market for full-strength cigarettes.
America is not the only country that is considering this. Dr. Benowitz says that Canada and New Zealand have been talking about a reduction too. He adds that any one country taking real regulatory action could create a domino effect around the world, and have a real impact on global health.
- Dr. Eric Donny, Director, Center for Evaluation of Nicotine and Cigarettes, University of Pittsburgh
- Dr. Neal Benowitz, Professor of Medicine and Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences and Chief, Division of Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco
- Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Professor of the Practice, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and former FDA Deputy Commissioner
- Dr. Stanton Glantz, Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Director, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education