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August 2, 2018

Miller urges FDA to act to reduce smoking rates below 10% in three years

A.G. recommends public information campaign, new policies on e-cigarettes to switch smokers

Attorney General Tom Miller outlined a plan to FDA officials and other public health experts: drive the adult smoking rate in the United States below 10 percent by 2021.  

“This would be an amazing public health accomplishment,” Miller wrote in a policy paper. “This should be our goal and it can be done.”

The adult smoking rate for 2017 was 13.9 percent, down from 16.8 percent three years ago.  The rapidly falling rate, combined with the growing popularity of JUUL e-cigarettes and other alternatives, puts the U.S. “on the precipice of a major public health breakthrough,” Miller wrote.

The introduction of heat-not-burn products, which heats tobacco without creating the chemicals in traditional cigarettes, would further drive down combustible smoking rates, as it has in markets such as Japan. 

Miller offered this checklist for the Federal Drug Administration as part of the plan to drive the adult smoking rate below 10 percent by 2021 and ultimately below 5 percent: 

(1)    Streamline the pre-market clearance process for non-combustible products so that companies selling e-cigarettes are not put out of business.

(2)    Do a public information campaign, including paid television spots, that informs combustible smokers that if they are unable or unwilling to quit they should switch to e-cigarettes.

(3)    Approve reduced risk statements by makers of non-combustibles.

(4)    Approve applications for heat-not-burn products.

(5)    Prohibit menthol flavoring in combustibles.

(6)    Significantly lower the amount of nicotine in combustibles.

Miller, the longest serving attorney general in the United States, was a leader in the $200 billion settlement with the tobacco industry in 1998. 

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