The FDA Wants To Lower Nicotine in All Cigarettes, Which Will Make Smokers Smoke More

This is the same agency that cost thousands of lives with its botched vaccine rollout.


If it doesn't look like avocado toast, you can't have it. That's the message I get loud and clear from Uncle Sam when I read story after story about the Food and Drug Administration's latest foray into stopping ordinary Americans from doing what ordinary Americans like to do.

Take the latest news that the FDA is thinking about requiring tobacco companies to lower the nicotine in all cigarettes sold in the United States. Its goal is to fight nicotine addiction. The paternalists at the FDA are also considering whether this proposal should be paired with a ban on menthol products.

This comes from the agency that has badly botched the COVID-19 response by delaying test and vaccine authorizations that could have saved countless lives. Now it has the nerve to tell Americans, most of whom are stressed out of their minds after a year of the pandemic and lockdowns, what they can or can't inhale.

While it may sound old-fashioned, I don't believe that it's the role of the government to tell fully consenting adults what they can and cannot do with their own bodies, even if their choice is something that most people disapprove of. And if you tell me that socialized medicine should give Uncle Sam the right to boss us around, I'll tell you that two wrongs don't make a right.

Besides, these measures are nonsensical. According to The Wall Street Journal, the idea behind the nicotine reduction measure is that it "would lower the chemical in cigarettes to nonaddictive or minimally addictive levels, aiming to push millions of smokers to either quit or switch to less harmful alternatives such as nicotine gums, lozenges, or e-cigarettes." Note that this same FDA has waged a war on these same e-cigarettes by banning the most popular flavors to ensure that these new and less harmful products were as unappealing as a plate of raw broccoli for breakfast.

Ask yourself this question: Do the geniuses at the FDA not realize that many people will simply smoke a greater number of cigarettes per day in order to get their nicotine fix?

Why would the FDA expect smokers to respond in a radically different way than all the people the government has tried to nudge with failed nanny state interventions to get to stop smoking or drinking sugary drinks in the past? I understand the superficial belief that raising the price of an item with taxes or other means as this proposal effectively suggests could discourage its consumption. But studies show that this isn't what happens in practice.

In fact, consumers have a knack for finding ways to consume the same amount of stuff that the government is trying to diminish the consumption of, especially when it comes to drugs, alcohol, or sugar. Sometimes they switch to substitutes that are even more dangerous.

For instance, studies find that smokers in high-tax states tend to consume cigarettes that are longer and higher in tar and nicotine than the ones consumed by smokers in low-tax states. This effect is especially pronounced among 18- to 24-year-olds because they have less money and insist on getting more bang for their buck. The same is true of harder drug prohibition. As the Cato Institute's Trevor Burrus tells me, "Prohibition makes drugs stronger for the same reason people smuggle flasks and not 12 packs at sporting events."

The same will happen with this latest nanny state gambit by the FDA. At the margin, a few, mostly light, smokers will give up the habit, but longtime and heavy smokers will likely start smoking more cigarettes to get their desired amount of nicotine. As with drugs and other prohibitions, this move is not neutral health-wise because, while nicotine doesn't lead to cancer or real harm, according to the FDA, the tar in each cigarette does. According to Cato Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Singer, who is also a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, "While nicotine is addictive, the tars in tobacco smoke are what do all of the damage to health. Reducing nicotine content might paradoxically make smoking more dangerous."

So, there you go: With its latest headline-grabbing proposal, the FDA would make smokers poorer and less healthy. We should also expect the black market to expand and offer smokers the stuff they've been wanting all along, including menthol cigarettes.

Why not, in this self-proclaimed land of the free, simply let adults choose as they wish.


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  1. My body, my choice, unless it’s a choice the government doesn’t approve of.

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  2. Quit playing naive. You know this is a handout to big tobacco, I know it, and the FDA obviously knows it. Nothing is going to get better as long as reporters insist on assuming these evil monsters are innocent and ignorant.

    1. Must be. There is no other logical explanation. Like all of the effort to ban and limit vapes. They know the nicotine is not what kills you.

      1. The vape ban fda originally proposed and was just barely prevented from implementing would have made all vapor products other than blu (Lorillard) de facto illegal. It is almost certainly a hand out for big tobacco.

    2. I don’t know it is at the behest of Big Tobacco, though. The government’s cut of their sales due to the antitrust settlement is more then enough reason for them to want more people to smoke without RJ telling them they need to do anything.

    3. Could also be an attempt to rake in more taxes. Backs are getting scratched, that’s for sure.

  3. …. but longtime and heavy smokers will likely start smoking more cigarettes to get their desired amount of nicotine.
    There absolutely no question that is exactly what will happen.
    Or start inhaling cigars.

    1. FDA declares more smoke in the lungs is a good thing!

    2. One, two, many Rush Limbaughs

      1. Experience from an ex smoker.

    3. You say “absolutely no question”, I say “why doesn’t the article cite any research proving this?”
      A lot of people smoke out of habit (on a coffee break, one after dinner etc.), maybe if those stop being as enjoyable they will think about quitting instead of deciding to smoke two with their coffee break and two after dinner. I have no idea what the net result will be and I doubt the author of this article does either, but it was more fun to go with the melodramatic “this rule will hurt people” headline even in the absence of evidence.

      1. They have done this already, actually. They’re called “light cigarettes”. And people generally smoked more of them.

        As far as quitting. I’ve seen vapes work for a lot of people. Either switching to something less cancerous or altogether. My wife quit altogether by actually upping the nicotine until it started making her nauseous. Then tapering off to nothing over a year or so. After the damn thing broke for the 50th time, she even gave up on the habitual non nicotine ritual of having to vape anything.

        Since vapes don’t get states that sweet sweet masters settlement agreement Moolah or get taxed the same way, you can bet this is a tobacco handout/revenue stream.

  4. Everything is illegal sez Senile Joe, except when my son does it.

  5. In fact, left wingers and Big Pharma created/financed PR/lobbying organization Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and its Big Pharma funded partners at ACS, AHA, ALA, AAP) have been lobbying FDA, and FDA has previously proposed, this same absurd “regulation” to effectively ban nicotine in cigarettes (by limiting the amount of nicotine to miniscule levels, just as occurred during alcohol prohibition a century ago).

    Since one week after Obama’s election in 2008, the FDA had been lying about, and trying to ban electronic cigarettes (which helped ten million Americans quit smoking in the past decade) by falsely claiming they were target marked to children, were highly addictive, were gateways to cigarettes for teens, and didn’t help smokers quit smoking. To this day, the CDC and FDA refuse to admit that vaping has helped far more smokers quit than all the Big Pharma nicotine products and Chantix (that are approved by FDA and heavily promoted by the entire DHHS as the only effective way to quit smoking).

    If FDA limits nicotine in cigarettes, lower priced black market nicotine cigarettes (that don’t pay federal, state or local cigarette taxes, or state settlements) will quickly replace the low nicotine cigarettes (which nobody will buy more than one pack of).

    More than two decades ago, several large cigarette companies began manufacturing and marketing low nicotine cigarettes, but nobody bought them, and they were removed from the market.

    Now the totalitarians at FDA (especially former GSK lobbyist Mitch Zeller who runs FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products Center, and who banned marketing of all nonapproved vapor products last year even though FDA hasn’t approved any yet), wants to create another yet another black market (for cigarettes).

    The FDA’s absurd cigarette ban proposal, which will also ban/eliminate all federal, state and local cigarette tax revenue (and state settlement payments) will never become a reality because governments are more addicted to cigarette tax/settlement revenue than smokers are to nicotine.

    1. I read somewhere not long ago that Chantix is automatically prescribed to anyone who tells their doctor they smoke, yet something like 90% or more of these prescriptions are never picked up (non-compliance), especially by younger smokers. It’s a nice gravy train for Pfizer, on top of J&J Covid vaccine recent troubles. None of these companies want nicotine to go away, they just want to be the ones who control the market for it.

  6. #defundFDA

  7. Perhaps the number of smokers has dropped. A lot of (non smoking related) social welfare programs are funded by cigarette sin taxes. I worked at a state CDC for five years and this had been explained to me when I was there. So IF fewer smokers THEN less funding for unicorn programs. But if the current pool of smokers starts puffing away more (chasing more nicotine), then more revenue.

    1. As annual US cigarette sales have plummeted from 32 billion packs in the early 1980s to just 10 billion packs in 2020, federal, state and local tax revenue (and state settlement revenue) has skyrocketed.

      After federal, local and state officials realize that FDA’s proposal will eliminate more than $50 billion in tax and settlement revenue, they’ll lobby FDA to stop/delay this truly disastrous proposal.

      The only winners of FDA’s cigarette ban proposal are GlaxoSmithKline (which employed FDA’s tobacco director Mitch Zeller from 2001-2011 as a lobbyist), Johnson & Johnson (which created and financed the PR lobbying group deceitfully called Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids) and Pfizer, maker of less than safe Chantix, which sell several billion dollars of so-called smoking cessation drugs each year in America.

      J&J and GSK control the worldwide market for Nicorette and Nicoderm, whose sales will increase if FDA bans cigarettes, and who are lobbying for the cigarette ban.

  8. While it may sound old-fashioned, I don’t believe that it’s the role of the government to tell fully consenting adults what they can and cannot do with their own bodies, even if their choice is something that most people disapprove of.

    And “what they can and cannot do with their own bodies” includes speech and travel, right? RIGHT?!

    1. While … of.

  9. Well, sure, the Federal Death Administration is living up to its purpose. What did you expect?

    Wait, what do you mean that’s not what “FDA” stands for?

  10. After a hard day at work nothing says “I want to kill” like a low alcohol beer and a low nicotine cigarette.

  11. There is not situation so bad that a little more government can’t make it worst

  12. Popular thought is among the proponents of the ban, is: menthol cigarettes are the new ‘crack’ to minorities.

    1. And just like crack, their will be many dealers ready to supply the market. It’s pretty easy to mentholate cigarettes and they can be the cheapest dog shit flavored cigarettes too, from China or Mexico, so long as the menthol is added, and the extra nicotine, a dealer can make out handsomely while flying under the FDA radar. These won’t be sold as Newpies or Kools-just menthols out of a brown paper bag.

  13. Lower content nicotine and smoker’s will only smoke more cigarettes, etc.. Right? Who makes the most of the sales of each and every tobacco product sold? Yes, Boys and Girls, Uncle Sam, a.k.a. “Gubmint”.

    1. [Correction: ” … the most ‘OFF’ the sales … .”]

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  15. Reducing the nicotine per cigarette but keeping the tax the same has a very high probability of increasing taxes collected and bureaucrats employed.

    “What we now have is a government of the people, by the bureaucrats, including the legislators who have become bureaucrats, for the bureaucrats.” ~ Milton Friedman

  16. “I need to order one charchoal grill on the rocks and one to go, please ????

  17. What, does direct contact with nicotine kill COVID-19 or something?

    “A well-regulated politic, being an exercise in sado-machism, the right of the people to keep and bear legal voting in elections, shall not be infringed.”

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