The White House on Tuesday declined to confirm reports it will force cigarette companies to slash nicotine levels to minimally addictive or non-addictive levels, an ambitious effort that would likely cut cancer rates but spark a backlash from the tobacco industry.
President Biden plans to place the effort on the government’s “unified agenda,” a bundle of proposed regulatory actions, according to a Washington Post report.
Smoking is still considered the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S. despite strides in cutting smoking rates, and Mr. Biden has pledged to reduce such deaths through his “cancer moonshot” initiative.
“What I can say is one of the key unity agenda items is ending cancer as we know it,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, though she added: “No policy decision has been made at this time,”
The Food and Drug Administration has floated a nicotine reduction before though it never gained traction.
Mr. Biden’s effort, if it commences, would take time. Regulators must issue a proposed rule and gather public input before issuing a final rule.
Nicotine is a chemical in tobacco that is highly addictive, causing people to get hooked and develop cancer and disease from other aspects of smoking.
Opponents of the move are likely to argue adult smokers will need less harmful alternatives, such as e-cigarettes, or say the nicotine reduction is a de facto ban that will upend the industry, eliminate jobs and force smokers onto the black market.