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 eighty-five percent reduction of nicotine happens in cigarettes, w will see fewer smokers smoking, 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 says 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, says that this reduction is not good for the future because it pushes back regulation of e-cigarettes. Dr. Glantz believes the FDA is overselling the reduction in cigarettes and giving e-cigarettes a pass on nicotine regulation. Some also think that this would create a black market of full-strength cigarettes. Dr. Glantz does think this is a step in the right direction, even though it does not solve the problem.
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. Any one country starting this could create a domino effect on the whole world, leading not just to a healthier country, but a healthier world.
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.
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