R Street Harm Reduction Policy Director Carrie Wade noted that this should be considered an important first step to reorient FDA regulation of tobacco products from a process created to protect the sales and profits of the major cigarette makers to one created to reduce tobacco-related addiction, illness and death.
"The FDA intends to start an open discourse about bringing down nicotine levels in ignitable cigarettes to non-addictive levels through achievable item models", the organization said in the declaration.
The agency also announced plans to delay a policy that requires makers of e-cigarettes, or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), to get agency approval for their products.
The agency says the new plan will help limit the number of children who become regular smokers, as well as reduce the rates of smoking-related deaths caused by disease such as cancer and heart disease. The FDA believes that these regulations will lead to less youth becoming addicted to tobacco products in the future.
The deadline for submitting marketing applications for newly regulated combustible products (cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco) that were commercially available as of August 8, 2016 has been extended to August 8, 2021. "It's taken a little while, but it seems the FDA is beginning to realize something the scientific community woke up to years ago: policies aimed at destroying the e-cigarette market actually would result in the unintended effect of more smokers sticking with traditional combustible cigarettes". These conditions also pose an excessive financial burden, with direct health care and lost productivity costs totaling almost $300 billion a year.
According to the FDA, 90 percent of smokers had their first cigarette before they turned 18 years old and 2,500 kids try their first cigarette every day.
The agency said it also will hold public comment sessions on how to regulate "kid-appealing flavors" that are often added to e-cigarettes and cigars.
The agency says the new plan isn't meant to simply snuff out a multi-billion dollar industry, but rather to encourage companies to develop innovative products that prove to be less unsafe than cigarettes.
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