FDA weighs nicotine reduction in cigarettes to curtail addiction

Federal health officials have made unprecedented moves to try to curtail cigarette addiction in the U.S., including proposing a cut in the level of nicotine content in a cigarette by about one-third.

Cigarettes currently contain 1.5 milligrams of nicotine, and the new proposal would reduce it to 0.4 milligrams, according to a statement published by U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials in The New England Journal of Medicine.

“One third of the amount now should make it nonaddictive,” Fox News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on Friday. “And that’s the key thing that nicotine does. That’s not the thing that gives you lung cancer. Nicotine draws you in, keeps you there and then 7,000 chemicals go bombarding into your lungs, including tar, lead, benzine. All of these killer chemicals come in, but the nicotine keeps you there.”

The FDA estimates the new tobacco framework has the potential to dramatically reduce death and disease for cigarette users, estimated that it could save 8 million lives by 2100.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ in the body. More than 16 million Americans live with a ailment caused by smoking, which can cause cancer, heart disease, strokes, lung disease and diabetes. It also increases the risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases and immune system problems.

More than 480,000 people die per year in the U.S. because of smoking cigarettes, and more than 41,000 die from secondhand smoke exposure.