US FDA takes aim at nicotine

Cigarettes are tested in a smoking machine in a laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON: The US Food and Drug Administration will explore cutting the level of nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels, a radical step that would reshape the US$130-billion American tobacco industry and potentially encourage millions of people to quit smoking.

The move, announced on Friday, would represent one of the most sweeping efforts to reduce smoking since the US Congress required cigarette packages to carry health warnings in 1965.

The move is likely to set off a lobbying fight in Washington, even as it pushes the industry to move faster in the development of new products that rely less on burning tobacco and more on potentially lower-risk technologies such as vaping, used in e-cigarettes.

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