The White House has proposed a rule that would reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes

BALTIMORE — The Biden administration has revealed a plan that would slow down tobacco use in the United States.

The proposed plan would force tobacco companies to reduce levels of nicotine in cigarettes.

The White House said on Tuesday the goal was to reduce addiction and eventually get more people to quit smoking.

The US Surgeon General reports that 87% of adult smokers start before age 18 and then become addicted.

“Because tobacco-related harms result primarily from addiction to products that repeatedly expose users to toxins, the FDA would take this action to reduce addiction to certain tobacco products, thereby giving addicted users greater ability to stop,” the White House said in a statement. .

Tobacco expert talks about proposed White House rule on cigarettes

Julia Melamed, a registered nurse and certified tobacco treatment specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Tobacco Health Practice, located on its Midtown Baltimore campus, told WMAR-2 News that the rule was potentially intended to discourage smokers to continue.

“They seek to require tobacco companies to reduce the amount of nicotine in cigarettes in the hope that this will discourage people from continuing to smoke, as nicotine is the most addictive component of a cigarette,” Melamed said. . “If you reduce the content, it may deter people from picking up more cigarettes.”

Tobacco leveling in cigarettes

According to the Washington Post, the plan was included in the Biden administration’s “unified agenda,” a compilation of planned federal regulatory actions that was released on Tuesday.

The administration said the FDA intends to develop a proposed tobacco product standard “that would establish a maximum level of nicotine in cigarettes and certain finished tobacco products.”

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The White House has said that each year, 480,000 people die prematurely from a disease attributed to smoking.

“We’re really excited that President Biden is making helping people quit smoking a priority,” Melamed said. “We hope this does not encourage people to try other types of tobacco or nicotine replacement, such as vapes or e-cigarettes, as these are not safe alternatives to cigarettes.”

Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things people can do, according to Melamed.

However, she says, people recovering from nicotine addiction will likely need support systems.

That’s where Melamed and the University of Maryland Medical Center Tobacco Health Practice come in.

They’re here to help by calling 410-328-8141, or visiting their website here.

“I think some people will have a hard time doing this if they don’t get extra support to quit smoking,” Melamed said. “Smoking is often a source of comfort for people, as it makes them feel safer and changes the way our brain reacts to threats. If you take away something that has comforted someone, perhaps since their teenage years, and you don’t offer any additional support to quit smoking, it could be a very difficult time for them.

According to the Washington Post, the decision to pursue a rule aimed at reducing nicotine levels is just the first step in a long process.

The Post reports that it could take at least a year for the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates cigarettes, to release a proposed rule. After that, the FDA should sift through public comments before issuing a final rule.

The opposition could delay or derail the effort — especially if the settlement isn’t completed before Biden leaves office. A president-elect in 2024 could tell the FDA to stop working on an unfinished rule. The tobacco industry, which is sure to vehemently oppose such a drastic change in its products, could challenge a final settlement in court, according to the Washington Post.

“It’s absolutely essential. Smoking is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and represents a major cost in healthcare expenditures,” Melamed said. “I think if we can solve this problem in our communities, it’s not just about being healthier, but also about addressing health disparities and promoting health equity for all. “

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