A suggestion that the US Food and Drug Administration should require ‘nicotine content’ to be below addictive levels might reduce the number of addicted smokers in the long term, but it would be detrimental to smokers in the short term, according to Dr. Gilbert Ross, of the American Council on Science and Health.
The suggestion was apparently put forward by Richard Daynard, a NortheasternUniversity law professor and president of its Public Health Advocacy Institute, writing in the New York Times.
Daynard said the FDA would be well within its authority under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to require nicotine content to be below addictive levels.
He also proposed that cities and states adopt a proposal called the ‘Smokefree Generation’, in which no one born in or after 2000 could ever be sold cigarettes legally.
“It’s hard to imagine too many parents objecting, and it would easy for retailers to enforce,” Daynard wrote.
“In the United States, it would provide a useful focus for state and local public health officials to do something game-changing, rather than sitting on the sidelines waiting for Washington to act.”
The goal of these proposals, neither of which is completely new, would be a nation with a smoking rate of under 10 per cent, or about half of what it is in the US today.
Ross described the proposals as intriguing, but said that there would be a major short-term detriment to lowering nicotine levels. “If you look at the long term, five or 10 years out, maybe you’d have fewer addicted smokers,” he said. “But in the short term, it would unquestionably increase the toxic effects of smoking. Smokers would take more puffs and inhale more deeply to get that addictive nicotine.”
Nevertheless, Ross said that Daynard’s proposals were worth considering and should not be dismissed out of hand.
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