In a stunning announcement Friday, the commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration unveiled plans to potentially force the tobacco industry to lower the amount of nicotine it includes in its own products; and all for the purported benefit of the public’s health.
“I’m directing our Center for Tobacco Products to develop a comprehensive nicotine regulatory plan premised on the need to confront and alter cigarette addiction,” commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced during a speech at the FDA’s Maryland headquarters.
He explained that the plan centers on reducing nicotine levels to “minimally or non-addictive” levels and argued that, despite potential complaints from the tobacco industry, the FDA is fully within its rights to do this.
“Congress has made clear that FDA has this authority,” he said. “As I see it, taking the next step and addressing nicotine is not just within our authority, it’s an enormous public health opportunity and falls squarely within FDA’s mission.”
Following his announcement, stocks for the multibillion dollar tobacco industry plummeted, shedding up to $60 million, according to the New York Post.
Not since then-Surgeon General Luther L. Terry declared cigarette smoking to be a dangerous habit in a speech 53 years ago has the federal government taken such aggressive action against the tobacco industry.
Gottlieb’s plan will likely provoke a great deal of backlash from those Americans who feel as if Big Government has slowly but surely been eroding their rights with its litany of overburdensome and wholly unnecessary regulations.
From trying to reduce soft drink consumption via soda taxes to forcing tobacco companies to alter their products in a way not beneficial to their bottom line, government at all levels sometimes seems hellbent on infringing on the rights of both businesses and individual consumers, the latter of whom should be allowed to decide on their own what products they want to buy.
The only positive takeaway from the commissioner’s announcement is that he’s delayed the regulation of non-combustible e-cigarette products by a couple years. As an e-cigarette user myself, I appreciate this.
Regarding the nicotine rule, however, it’ll likely only spur the opposite effect. By forcing tobacco companies to reduce the nicotine in their products, the FDA will inadvertently force smokers to smoke more to get their fix, thus only exacerbating the problem, not making it better.
It’s no surprise, really, since government invariably makes things worse, never better.
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H/T U.K. Daily Mail