CDC: Most US adults favor lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes; Even 8 in 10 current cigarette smokers agree

Most US adults—including 8 in 10 cigarette smokers—favor requiring cigarette makers to lower nicotine levels in cigarettes so that they are less addictive, according to a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Data for the report come from the 2018 SummerStyles survey, a nationally representative online survey of U.S. adults aged 18 and older. The percentage of those who favor reductions in nicotine was high across all assessed categories including gender, age, income, education, race/ethnicity, and use of other types of tobacco products besides cigarettes.

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

The 2014 U.S. Surgeon General’s report identified the reduction of nicotine content in cigarettes to non-addictive levels as one of several potential specific strategies to accelerate declines in combustible tobacco smoking and end the tobacco epidemic. In March 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to seek public comment on a potential product standard to lower nicotine in cigarettes to a minimally or non-addictive level. A recent study projected that this proposed product standard would avert about 33 million people from starting to smoke, as well as 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,” said Brian King, Ph.D., M.P.H., deputy director for research translation in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “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.”

Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, responsible for an estimated 480,000 deaths each year. Approximately two-thirds of adult smokers want to quit smoking, yet less than 1 in 10 smokers are able to quit each year, primarily because cigarettes contain highly addictive nicotine. Smokers can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit for help to quit.


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