Tobacco shares nosedive on FDA regulation warning

Tobacco shares nosedive on FDA regulation warning

In a major regulatory shift, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Friday to its intention to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes while exploring measures to move smokers toward e-cigarettes.

"The FDA plans to begin a public dialogue about lowering nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes to non-addictive levels through achievable product standards".

The FDA's decision also extends the timeline for applications for new e-cigarette clearance by the FDA to August 8, 2022, giving e-cigarette companies more time to keep their products on the market before the agency tackles the process of final review.

Gottlieb also announced plans to delay for a few years a requirement that makers of cigars and e-cigarettes get agency approval for any products marketed after February 2007, according to the Washington Post.

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"Nicotine itself is not responsible for the cancer, the lung disease and heart disease that kill hundreds of thousands of Americans each year", he said.

In a press release, published on the agency's website on Friday, the FDA said it will ensure it has the proper scientific and regulatory foundation to efficiently and effectively implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The agency needs to concentrate on nicotine regulation and not be distracted by the debate on whether e-cigarettes help smokers quit, he said.

Other e-cigarette regulations, such as a ban on the sale of the devices to minors, will remain in place.

The goal, Mr Gottlieb added, is to "render cigarettes minimally addictive" by reducing the amount of the harmful and addictive chemical, which they say is the leading cause of preventable death in the US. Tobacco kills more than 480,000 people a year in the USA and costs society nearly $300 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity.

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More than 480,000 deaths occur each year in the US from smoking-related illnesses.

British American Tobacco shares fell following the FDA announcement.

Gottlieb said the FDA would consider regulating "kid-appealing flavors" in e-cigarettes and cigars, while possibly banning menthol in cigarettes.

The plan had an immediate effect on the stock market.

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