You may have seen news about low nicotine cigarettes.
That’s because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already authorized one brand of low nicotine cigarettes. The FDA has also indicated that it plans to create a rule that would require ALL cigarettes to have non-addictive levels of nicotine.
Requiring all cigarettes to have non-addictive levels of nicotine would be a gamechanger, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
How Low Nicotine Cigarettes Can Help
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical compound found naturally in tobacco plants—and it is the reason that people who use tobacco products continue to do so.
Very low nicotine cigarettes (VLNCs) can help smokers reduce the amount of nicotine they use, which can help them wean off cigarettes and eventually quit.
Another advantage of VLNCs is they are less addictive to new users and youth, and therefore they are less likely to hook young people to cigarettes in the first place.
The tobacco industry has manipulated the ingredients in cigarettes to make them as addictive as possible. Preventing this kind of manipulation would be monumental.
Short-term Benefits, Long-term Risks of Low Nicotine Cigarettes
It’s important to note that while cigarettes with reduced nicotine levels can help reduce the addictiveness of these products, it does not mean they are safe.
In fact, VLNCs have nearly all the same health risks associated with smoking regular cigarettes. Here’s why: Using VLNCs still involves burning tobacco and other toxic components included in a cigarette and inhaling them into the lungs.
The advantage of VLNCs is that they help wean smokers from the substance that keeps them smoking (nicotine). But low nicotine cigarettes are no substitute for quitting smoking altogether and should not be used long-term.
In fact, people who simply switch to VLNCs and continue smoking would not reap the same health benefits of quitting, if any.
Individuals must understand that while the addictiveness of VLNCs may be reduced, people who use them are still putting themselves at risk for the many diseases known to be caused by cigarette smoking. That is why it is critically important for people who smoke to have access to proven cessation interventions and tools that will help them quit.
So, while VLNCs might be a spark to get people who smoke to start down the road on their quitting journey, they cannot be the end of that journey.
Best Way to Quit Smoking for Good
While VLNCs can be a promising step to move people who smoke toward quitting, and keep young people from getting addicted, the best thing individuals who smoke can do for their health is to quit.
Smoking cessation eliminates exposure to the thousands of harmful chemicals that come from any kind of combustible tobacco and frees people from an addiction to nicotine.
The EX Program can provide that assistance and support to help your employees and members who smoke quit for good. To learn more about how we strategically partner with you to end tobacco use with your people, visit our Employers page or our Health Plans page now.