The US Food and Drug Administration plans to try to lower the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to make them less addictive — an unprecedented move by the agency.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Thursday the agency would propose the rule, opening a long bureaucratic process.
It’s the boldest move yet against cigarette makers by the FDA, which only got permission to regulate tobacco products in 2009.
“Today’s milestone places us on the road to achieving of one of the biggest public heath victories by saving millions of lives,” Gottlieb told reporters. He also said he wanted input about potentially unforeseen consequences of such a rule.
“As part of our comprehensive plan on tobacco and nicotine regulation announced last summer, we’re issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to explore a product standard to lower nicotine in cigarettes to minimally or non-addictive levels,” Gottlieb said in a statement.
“This new regulatory step advances a comprehensive policy framework that we believe could help avoid millions of tobacco-related deaths across the country.”
The FDA does not have the authority to ban tobacco-based products, but since it was given some powers by Congress in 2009, it has moved gradually to impose some limits of tobacco sales and marketing.