The FDA's New Mission to Lower Nicotine in Cigarettes

Vector Group, maker of Pyramid and Liggett Select, was down five percent, while in London British American Tobacco had fallen close to seven percent.

"Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts - and we believe it's vital that we pursue this common ground", Gottlieb said.

The agency said it was adopting a harm-reduction strategy that seeks to balance regulation of existing products and encourage development of "new products that may be less risky than cigarettes".

The smoking rate in the U.S.is falling.

It is estimated that 36.5 million people in this country are cigarette smokers.

Tar and other substances inhaled through smoking make cigarettes deadly, but the nicotine in tobacco is what makes them addictive.

The FDA's shift comes as the agency considers whether to approve new marketing claims for new heat-not-burn devices, smokeless tobacco and other products.

The FDA's official media release specifically mentions that the agency plans on developing product standards to "protect against known public health risks, such as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) battery issues and concerns about children's exposure to liquid nicotine".

That means e-cigarette companies will be able to keep their products on the market longer, which is drawing criticism from the campaign for tobacco-free kids. Under the proposed delay, products would be able to remain on the market while FDA determines whether to green light the products for sale to consumers.

The agency is also seeking public comment on the role that flavors (including menthol) in tobacco products play in attracting new users, as well as additional input and scientific data on the patterns of use and public health impacts from premium cigars.

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  • Anthony Vega