Global War on Smoking Matters Heats Up
The US Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to take away the addictive properties of cigarettes in order to reduce smoking is also taken into consideration by at least four other countries
After Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner, suggested drastic cuts in nicotine levels, health experts in New Zealand joined and published an action plan which recommends such reductions within five years. More than that, Canada and Finland say that they are also looking into regulating the amounts of the drug in all tobacco products, while UK officials have already discussed the US proposal with FDA representatives.
Clive Bates, public health consultant, said that the FDA has “massively raised the attention on reduced-nicotine cigarettes for regulators across the world”. Moreover, the move gives “tremendous impetus” to the concept of nicotine limits. However, there is the risk that the policy will create a black market for standard cigarettes.
The FDA’s proactive attitude could embolden all the authorities outside of the US to level up the war on nicotine. History clearly shows that government efforts to lower smoking levels, from adevertising bans to restrictions on packaging can spread fast across borders.
Gottlieb’s move ripped off $36 billion from tobacco companies in just one day, hitting those with the biggest US exposure, such as Lucky Strike owner British American Tobacco Plc and Marlboro parent Altria Group Inc. However, the timing may be especially painful for BAT, as it is said to be marketing bonds in Europe to refinance its $49.4 billion buyout of Reynolds American Inc.