Rules Could Limit Nicotine in Tobacco Products

People who smoke are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop blood sugar concerns than people who don’t. And smokes with blood sugar worries are more likely to see spikes and bouncing numbers than non-smokers. That’s part of why we’re always interested in news about the tobacco industry. Of course, even for people without blood sugar concerns, smoking is unhealthy.  

The many dangers of tobacco use have been known for decades. Smoking causes 480,000 premature deaths a year. It’s the leading cause of preventable deaths in the country. Now, for the first time, laws may be passed that could change how addictive tobacco products are. If passed, the new regulations would limit how much nicotine is in tobacco products making them less addictive and, hopefully, easier to quit. The FDA said that more than half of smokers make a serious attempt to quit each year. Most do not succeed. Were cigarettes to have less nicotine and therefore be less addictive, they would have a better chance of reaching their goal.

This is the first time there’s ever been a serious discussion with a commitment from the highest levels of government to tackle tobacco in a way that is transformative,” said Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “It will transform public health in the [U.S.] and literally do more to reduce cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease than any other set of actions the government could take.”

Nicotine is incredibly addictive. Yet, in studies, when nicotine is reduced in cigarettes, people don’t smoke more to compensate. Lowering the amount of the chemical might make it so that people can quit without going through withdrawal, which can be a massive hurdle in quitting. And it would stop people who try smoking from becoming addicted. The FDA believes lowering the nicotine levels may prevent 33 million new smokers and help five million quit.

With lower levels of nicotine, cigarettes are still a source of carcinogenic smoke and harmful chemicals. Nicotine isn’t what makes tobacco dangerous, but it is what makes it addictive. Reducing the nicotine doesn’t make them a safe product, but it makes them easier to give up, which is a step in the right direction.

What we like about this initiative is that it doesn’t tell people what to do. For decades the tobacco industry has been preying on people. But simply taking away cigarettes, or forcing people to quit, isn’t a healthy solution. People don’t like being told what to do and should be able to make their own decisions — even if they know they are bad for them. You have to make your own choices if you really want to make healthy changes. Otherwise, you’ll find other unhealthy vices. This method would make it so that quitting — something everyone knows they should do — is easier. But it doesn’t force them to. It acts as a stepping stone that would help people go at their own pace, and we think that’s an excellent step for health.

Banner image: Pawel Czerwinski via Unsplash

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