“The 360” shows you various perspectives on the most important stories and debates of the day.
What is going on
The Food and Drug Administration last week announced a proposed rule that would force tobacco companies to drastically reduce the amount of nicotine in their cigarettes, a move the agency says could save millions of lives by the end of the century.
Nicotine itself is not known to cause cancer, but it is a highly addictive substance that is believed to be the leading cause of smoking habits that cause about 480,000 deaths in the United States each year, the agency said in a statement announcing potential policy. announced.
Two days later, the FDA also ordered Juul, one of the largest companies in the vaping industry, to withdraw all of its products from the US market. E-cigarettes and other vapor products are often presented as safer alternatives to smoking because they allow adults to meet their nicotine needs without inhaling the toxic chemicals found in traditional cigarettes. But the industry has come under intense scrutiny, both by the public and federal regulators, due to a recent spike in teen vaping. While the FDA has allowed other companies’ vaping products to remain on the market, Juul said it did did not succeed provide evidence that its products served “the protection of public health”.
Neither the nicotine restrictions nor the Juul product ban are currently in effect. The FDA plans to set its limit for nicotine in cigarettes in May 2023, though the possibility of legal challenges could seriously delay its enforcement. Juul has been granted a temporary injunction that will keep its products on shelves while the company prepares for an appeal.
Cigarettes have been the target of regulators for decades, but these new actions by the FDA — along with a rule proposed in April that would ban menthol cigarettes — represent a new approach that has put the causes of addiction at the center of anti-smoking efforts.
Why there is discussion
The FDA has received praise from a number of prominent health advocacy groups for its goal of reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes, which they say will make it easier for regular smokers to quit and less likely that nonsmokers — especially teens — will pick up the habit. The American Heart Association called it “one of the most drastic measures” the FDA could take to reduce smoking-related deaths. Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, called it “transformative.”
But critics of the decision say it could backfire. There is a risk, they argue, that having less nicotine in individual cigarettes means smokers will simply smoke more and longer to get the same amount of nicotine they need, ultimately increasing the amount of cancer-causing chemicals they inhale. There are also concerns that a dangerous black market could emerge if smokers are denied access to the high nicotine content cigarettes they crave.
Comments were also mixed with the FDA banning Juul products. Some argue that the company has played a major role in the current teen vaping epidemic, and that removing its products from the market will reduce the number of children who become addicted to nicotine and turn to cigarettes as they age. But critics say it makes little sense to ban a single company when so many other vaping products remain available.
Others say that going after vaping directly undermines the FDA’s primary goal of reducing smoking-related deaths. They argue that, while not harmless, vaping products are undeniably less dangerous than cigarettes and any regulations making them harder to find will result in fewer smokers switching to a much safer alternative.
Lower nicotine levels help people quit and save lives
“Count us fans of the Food and Drug Administration’s landmark effort to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes, which, combined with a proposed ban on menthol-flavored cancer sticks, promises to free millions of Americans from deadly addiction.” – Editorial, daily news
Less nicotine makes cigarettes even more deadly
“In a world of lower nicotine cigarettes, people who are already addicted to nicotine will still be addicted — they’ll just have to do it.” smoke more cigarettes to get their nicotine fix. That means mandating all U.S. cigarettes to be low-nicotine cigarettes could actually cause smoking riskier by requiring smokers to smoke more and consume more of the other substances in cigarettes to get the same level of nicotine they are accustomed to.” —Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reden
The FDA has finally recognized that only aggressive action can solve the problem of smoking-related deaths
“These efforts could be the biggest factor in achieving Biden’s moonshot goal of cutting cancer deaths in half over 25 years. … The road ahead is not easy. … But the FDA is to be commended for taking bold action that can improve the health of future generations. – dr. Leana Wen, Washington Post
Black markets for banned tobacco products will emerge
“The most optimistic outcome of all the new nicotine regulation is that smokers will switch to legal e-cigarettes or even make the choice to quit nicotine altogether. But they will have another option: turning to black markets. The FDA is unwittingly creating the conditions for illicit markets where menthol cigarettes, nicotine-containing cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes could thrive.” — Jacob Grier, Slate
A reduction in nicotine levels would be a game changer, but it’s way too early to celebrate
“While reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes would be a huge deal, the FDA this week took only a first, very small step toward that goal. And it has taken that small step before, albeit with much less fanfare.” —Nicholas Florko, Stat
Smokers may suddenly lose their desire to quit if cigarettes are considered less dangerous
“Many smokers may take the new products as a government-approved green light to continue smoking tobacco. This misguided understanding can have deadly consequences.” — Martin Cullip, filter
It is a mistake to deprive smokers of the opportunity to quit smoking
“[Vaping products] are exits that can offer smokers an alternative to combustibles, which are responsible for virtually all tobacco-related deaths. But now that exit is being narrowed and more or less paved over, putting millions of adult lives at risk.” — Clifford Douglas, tobacco policy expert, to the New York Times
Vaping will never be the answer to smoking-related deaths
“Whatever you think of the public health benefits of electronic nicotine in any form as an alternative to traditional tobacco products, the gist of the situation is this: we have chosen to solve a political/societal problem (smoking) solve it with a technological solution (e-cigarettes) largely designed, developed and distributed by those responsible for the problem.” —Edward Ongweso Jr., Vice
The cigarette industry is already collapsing without government intervention
“Progressives have long wanted to bankrupt the tobacco industry, even as governments have become addicted to tax revenue. But the number of smokers has dropped significantly in recent decades, no thanks to government regulation.” — Editors, Wall Street Journal
The promise of vaping as a smoking alternative has never been fulfilled
“If Juul, the company, had acted more responsibly — if it hadn’t been so popular with teens, if it hadn’t angered regulators, if it hadn’t lit the match that sparked a political firestorm — maybe Juul, the product, could have made a real difference to public health.” — Jamie Ducharme, Time
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