Friday, April 19, 2024

Virginia Could See Low-Nicotine Cigarettes By End of 2023

A 2022 Virginia Department of Health survey shows 37% of young people in Virginia felt they had easy access to tobacco products. Meanwhile, more than half (51%) began smoking or vaping as soon as they came of age. (Adobe Stock)

WILLIAMSVILLE, New York — Virginia is one of several U.S. states that could see low-nicotine cigarettes rolled out by year’s end. Created by 22nd Century Group, these cigarettes contain 95% less nicotine than normal cigarettes. This comes as Virginia ranked poorly in all categories of the American Lung Association’s 2023 State of Tobacco Control Report.

John Miller, Tobacco Division president for 22nd Century Group, said these are just one more form of nicotine replacement therapy for people to consider using it.

“There’s been gums, nicotine gums and lozenges. But, with all of those things, there’s still roughly 35 million people that smoke in the United States, and still 190 billion cigarettes sold,” he explained. “So, there is not a silver bullet, and I applaud the FDA for really seeing that. You can’t only have one solution for such a diversified group.”

This month, the low nicotine cigarettes will be available in California, Florida and Texas, with plans to expand to 18 other states later this year. Although some groups are worried about how the Food and Drug Administration will regulate these, research is already showing how effective they are. A 2022 study finds reducing nicotine in cigarettes to very low levels reduces cigarette addiction and toxicant exposure.

During the past year, these cigarettes underwent market testing, which Miller said provided insight into how retailers would sell them. One priority in that time has been safety. Another thing becoming apparent is that youth smokers are not interested in this product.

“It’s obvious that the youth smoking issues have switched to vapor more than anything now,” Miller said. “So, we know we have no appeal to youth. So, we really try to be clear in those buckets on safety and who’s the consumer.”

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids finds more high school students used e-cigarettes in 2022 than other tobacco products. Additionally, the group finds a little more than 11,000 Virginia kids younger than 18 try cigarettes for the first time each year.

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