President Biden intends to force tobacco companies to reduce cigarette nicotine content just one month after publishing a rule banning menthol cigarettes. Lower nicotine content in cigarettes is likely to increase cigarette consumption quickly.
Why? Nicotine, like caffeine, is a highly addictive but relatively harmless substance. Nicotine does not cause cancer, heart disease, or lung disease on its own. These illnesses are caused by over 7,000 other chemicals found in cigarettes and cigarette smoke. Seeking a limit on nicotine, the least dangerous of these ingredients, is absurd.
“People smoke for the nicotine, but they die from the tar,” said Michael Russell, one of the first researchers to identify nicotine as the primary reason smokers became addicted. People will be forced to smoke more cigarettes to get the nicotine they crave if President Biden gets his way. Someone who normally smokes one pack of cigarettes per day would now require two, or even three, packs of lethal cigarettes to satisfy their addiction. That’s quite a bit more tar.
This would also imply that cigarette addicts would spend more of their hard-earned money on cigarettes. Let us not forget that this administration has spent months denying and downplaying rampant inflation, which disproportionately affects the poor. While the President and the Washington elites who advise him are unconcerned about inflation, the average American struggles to fill their car with gas and put food on the table. Given that 72 percent of cigarette smokers come from low-income households, this proposal comes at the worst possible time.
In New York, those with the highest incomes spend only 2% of their annual earnings on cigarettes. Lower-income people, on the other hand, spend nearly a quarter of their income on cigarettes. President Biden is playing the sick, twisted Robin Hood role, taking from the poor and giving to the rich in the name of “public health.” While the Biden administration may believe that limiting nicotine content is a dig at Big Tobacco, this decision will increase cigarette sales and lead to more illness and death.