The United States Food and Drug Administration is preparing an anti-smoking proposal that looks to finally kill off cigarettes, but the plan may have an ironic effort of saving the Big Tobacco companies.
"Big Tobacco," the collective term for the five biggest companies in the world and were recently required to inform the public of the dangers of smoking, would be in further trouble if cigarettes would no longer be allowed in the market. However, there is still a chance for them to thrive by selling cigarette alternatives.
New Anti-Smoking Proposal Of FDA
The usage of cigarettes has dwindled over the past several decades, with smoking rate down to record low numbers. However, the Food and Drug Administration wants to bring the figure down further with its planned new proposal.
The FDA's new anti-smoking plan will look to reduce the allowed nicotine levels in cigarettes. This would make them non-addictive and hopefully be the final step in efforts to curb smoking, though the process is expected to take years to implement.
Recent studies show that people who try even just one cigarette are likely to become habitual smokers. In a survey, three out of every five people who smoked one cigarette eventually developed smoking as a regular habit.
However, reducing the nicotine content in cigarettes is just the first component of the FDA proposal. The second component is to allow lower-risk cigarette alternatives that will provide people with their nicotine fix without the harmful effects.
How Will The Plan Save Big Tobacco Companies?
The second component of the FDA's plan is what may save the Big Tobacco companies from going under, as exhibited by a new product from Philip Morris International.
The product, named iQOS, is a device that heats Marlboro-branded tobacco without actually burning it. According to Philip Morris, this will reduce the exposure of people to tar and other toxins that are created by normal cigarettes.
Studies have shown that e-cigarettes help people to quit smoking, and health experts have encouraged smokers to instead go vaping. However, e-cigarettes use different liquid with varying nicotine levels, while iQOS uses real tobacco, which Philip Morris hopes will make the device a more attractive cigarette alternative.
Anti-smoking advocates claim that a safe tobacco product is not possible and clamor for the FDA to completely eliminate tobacco consumption instead of allowing alternatives. FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, however, said that the regulatory body still needs to provide the people with the option of acquiring nicotine without the negative effects of burning tobacco.
"This is the single most controversial — and frankly, divisive — issue I've seen in my 40 years studying tobacco control policy," said University of Michigan school of public health professor emeritus Kenneth Warner.