The Biden Administration has a rumored new plan that could shakeup the tobacco industry. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering a new requirement that would lower nicotine levels in cigarettes to the point where they are no longer addictive. The Wall Street Journal also reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could move to ban menthol cigarettes. This assumption is based on commentary from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that implied that flavors, including menthol, make smoking more appealing while they do nothing to prevent the harmful health effects of smoking.
News of nicotine levels being curbed sent tobacco stocks tumbling on April 20, 2021. Altria’s stock fell 6.2 percent on Monday and fell an additional 3.85 percent the next day. Philip Morris International, Inc.’s stock fell 1.3 percent on Monday but rose 2.54 on Tuesday. One company, however, saw a major boost with its stock. 22nd Century Group, Inc., which focuses on cigarettes with low nicotine levels, saw its stock increase 18 percent on Monday and it rose an additional 5.35 percent on Tuesday.
In 2018, the FDA stated that it intended to address nicotine levels in cigarettes. While companies like Altria expressed doubt that lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes would be possible and whether or not it would lead to a reduction in smoking, other companies like 22nd Century Group has since released a reduced-nicotine cigarette product to the market called VLN. 22nd Century Group has also stated that it would be willing to license its reduced nicotine content tobacco technology to other cigarette manufacturers.