US Food and Drug Administration Looks To Regulate Nicotine
After the labels and warnings, the restaurant bans and the grisly ad campaigns, the US Food and Drug Administration is exploring a radical approach to helping people quit: regulating nicotine in cigarettes. If the FDA follows through -- something far from certain -- the shift could prompt some to quit or, at least, switch to relatively safer products like electronic cigarettes or vaping.
The FDA’s initiative may upend the $130 billion American tobacco industry. It’s also likely to set off a ferocious lobbying and legal war in Washington, and push the cigarette industry to develop products that rely less on burning carcinogenic tobacco and more on delivering doses of nicotine through cleaner vapor. Smoking-related illnesses cost $300 billion a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After the FDA’s announcement last month, shares of the two largest cigarette sellers in the U.S., Altria Group Inc. And British American Tobacco Plc, suffered their biggest single-day drop since the recession, reflecting investors’ belief that companies aren’t prepared for the new era.
Vivien Azer, a research analyst with Cowen & Co. who follows the industry, said that despite the sell-off, companies are trying to adapt with new products that take them beyond the simple equation of flame plus leaf.
“Everyone seems to be leaning in heavily into ‘heat not burn,”’ she said.