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Plans to cut nicotine level in cigarettes postponed

21 Nov 2019. US regulators have delayed plans to force tobacco companies to decrease the levels of nicotine in cigarettes, Bloomberg reported.

The plan to cut nicotine levels in cigarettes to a non-addictive level was originally unveiled two years ago by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a regulatory document released on 20 November. Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration agency posted a notice on the government’s website, stating that the new policy “would have significant public health benefits for youth, young adults, and adults, as well as potentially vast economic benefits.”

The plan was originally developed in 2017, by the then FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, who wanted to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes and other burnt tobacco products to near-zero. The plans were also paired with the decision, which was later reversed, to give e-cigarette producers more time to keep their products on the market without being regulated. However, Gottlieb left the FDA before the nicotine policy could be enforced.

According to the report, if the plans had been seen through, the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that 2.8 million lives could have been saved by 2060. However, the FDA’s notice has now been removed from the website, although FDA spokesman, Michael Felberbaum, told Bloomberg that the removal of the plans “does not mean the agency does not consider them a priority or will not continue to work on their development.”