alec stone
Alec Stone, MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

The evidence is clear: Nicotine is an addictive substance. Even current smokers acknowledge its power, and addiction information is required in advertisements and product promotions. Despite tobacco’s known issues, people still smoke at alarming rates. With vaping, e-cigarettes, and flavored tobacco being introduced to younger and younger consumers, youth smoking is on the rise for the first time in decades.

A report from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine recently showed data that 8 in 10 cigarette smokers favor requiring tobacco manufacturers to lower the nicotine levels in cigarettes, a push back against the addictive qualities in the products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an announcement highlighting a breakdown of the study’s findings.

“Cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products are responsible for the overwhelming burden of death and disease from tobacco use in the United States,” Corinne Graffunder, DrPH, MPH, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said. “Lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes could help current smokers quit and make it less likely for future generations to become addicted to these products.”

As the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, smoking is responsible for an estimated 480,000 deaths every year. CDC’s report highlighted that reducing nicotine content in cigarettes to nonaddictive levels is one way to curtail increasing smoking rates. CDC said such a shift could prevent 33 million people from beginning the habit and 8.5 million smoking-related deaths by the year 2100.

“We have made considerable progress in reducing cigarette smoking over the past half century through the implementation of proven, population-based strategies,” Brian King, PhD, MPH, deputy director for research translation in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said. “Reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes could complement these strategies and bring us one step closer to a society free of tobacco-related disease and death.”