Making cigarettes less addictive

| April 22, 2016

Health Canada is studying the possibility of forcing companies to make their cigarettes less addictive than they are currently, according to a story by Tom Blackwell for the National Post.

The department issued a tender recently calling for an outside researcher to add to the government’s own analysis of the idea and how it would affect public health.

Though not mentioned specifically in the document, reducing the nicotine level of cigarettes is the most-discussed means of lessening their addictiveness. But experts are divided on whether that makes any sense.

Proponents say early evidence indicates that a cut in the chemical could help wean smokers off the habit.

But critics argue that a mandated nicotine reduction would prompt people to smoke more and harder to get their desired hit of the drug, and, in doing so, draw in more of tobacco’s carcinogens in the process.

“It’s so wrong-headed,” said David Sweanor, an Ottawa lawyer and long-time anti-smoking advocate. “The unintended consequences are screaming out on this. … People adjust the way they smoke to get the nicotine they need or want.”

But officials have already considered how a cut in addictiveness would affect the rate of people starting and quitting smoking, as well as such possible consequences as a jump in the sales of contraband tobacco and rates of ‘compensatory’ smoking.

Sean Upton, a spokesman for Health Canada, said the project was not necessarily about reducing nicotine levels but “will help guide policy and be used to test different things and potential benefits.”

“It’s a policy development tool,” he said.

However, the document discusses exclusively addictiveness-reduction.

And in academic circles recently, cutting nicotine levels has garnered most of the attention as a way to make tobacco less addictive.

Blackwell’s story is at: http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/health-canada-looks-at-forcing-tobacco-companies-to-make-cigarettes-less-addictive

Category: Breaking News

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