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The Food and Drug Administration has recently proposed to dramatically reduce the nicotine content in cigarettes. This measure is expected to make cigarettes less addictive and easier to quit; studies have shown that very low nicotine cigarettes reduce dependence and increase quit attempts in comparison with standard nicotine cigarettes.

Justin Byron, PhD, Assistant Professor at UNC Family Medicine
Justin Byron, PhD, Assistant Professor at UNC Family Medicine

However, this proposed regulation leaves out other combustible tobacco products, such as little and filtered cigars. These products often look and feel like cigarettes, being the same length, with similar filters; the packaging and marketing also mimics that of regular cigarettes.

“Little and filtered cigars are essentially cigarettes,” says Byron. “It’s not like wrapping them in tobacco rather than paper makes them any safer.

“The tobacco industry has often been one step ahead of policymakers,” he added. “This is a key loophole to close ahead of time to help more smokers who want to quit.”

Justin Byron, PhD is a researcher with the Department of Family Medicine, with a dual appointment with the School of Global Public Health. The full commentary is available online