The US Food and Drug Administration submitted plans several weeks ago to increase regulation of tobacco products including chewing tobacco, cigars, and likely electronic cigarettes, which produce a nicotine vapor that’s inhaled. While the plans remain under cover and under review by the White House budget office, Mitch Zeller, the director for the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, discussed other items on his agenda to help lower smoking rates.
1. Create a non-addictive cigarette. “We have the authority given to us by Congress to reduce nicotine in cigarettes down to nearly zero,” Zeller said. Since nicotine is the addictive chemical in cigarettes, teens who start smoking products that are almost nicotine-free could, in theory, never get hooked in the first place. But don’t expect an ultra-low-nicotine product for at least a few years, Zeller added.
2. Run ads to scare teens away from smoking. The FDA is planning an ad campaign for next year that aims to make the thought of smoking turn teens’ stomachs. Expect to see photos of smokers with yellow teeth and tar-stained fingernails.
3. Loosen warning labels on nicotine-replacement products. Zeller said the FDA might want to loosen labeling on over-the-counter nicotine patches and gum, which say they should not be used for longer than eight to 12 weeks, to allow for longer use in those who can’t break their addiction.