>> Roughly half a million Americans die each year from cigarette smoking, and on Friday, the head of a top government agency took aim at the major culprit, nicotine, the addictive ingredient in tobacco that gives smokers that rush. U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announcing a plan to cut nicotine levels in cigarettes.
The first time the government has gone beyond scary warning labels and stiff taxes and targeted the actual substance that gets people hooked. Reuters correspondent, Jilian Mincer.>> The idea would be that if there's less nicotine in cigarettes, people would then be able to gradually move on to maybe vaping devices, patches, eventually quit.
That's a direction that the tobacco companies already are moving in with their vaping products. So, cigarette smoking in this country, fortunately, has been plummeting. And tobacco companies actually need smokers to use something. So they've been developing products, vaping products are becoming more and more popular.>> To that end, the FDA also handing Big Tobacco a gift.
Companies that also produce e-cigarettes will now have more time to get their products approved.>> Last year it was announced, a rule went into effect requiring that vaping products get FDA approval to stay on the market, and immediately there was a lot of opposition to that. Now, Gottlieb has said that they'll have more time to go through the process, and that means that for the next few years, those products can stay on the market without approval.
>> The reshaping of the $130 billion American tobacco industry causing many of the companies' shares to fall Friday, but Mincer says that has more to do with investors being caught off guard, rather than the manufacturers themselves.>> Long term, the tobacco companies, they realise that these less harmful products are crucial to their bottom line.
This just puts it into a regulatory framework.