Washington, D.C. The Food and Drug Administration should regulate tobacco and develop a plan to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes, the Institute of Medicine urged Thursday.
Its report calls on Congress and the president to give the FDA the authority to enforce standards for nicotine reduction and to regulate companies' claims that their products reduce exposure or risk.
The report notes that cigarettes are unique in that they contain carcinogens and other dangerous toxins and would be banned under federal law if these statutes did not expressly exempt tobacco.
A bill currently before Congress would give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco, but the head of the agency has expressed skepticism.
Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach said that if the FDA reduced nicotine levels in cigarettes, people would change their smoking habits to maintain current levels of the addictive drug.