A pile of cigarettes
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  • The Biden administration is mulling major changes to tobacco policy, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
  • Officials are considering a ban on menthol cigarettes, the paper said.
  • New rules may also require tobacco firms to lower the amount of nicotine in their products, according to the report.
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The White House is mulling sweeping changes to government tobacco rules, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

The Biden administration may compel tobacco and cigarette companies to slash the amount of nicotine in cigarettes sold in the US to levels that are less addictive, the paper said, adding that a ban on menthol cigarettes is also being considered.

Shares of major tobacco companies fell sharply following the Journal's report, with Altria Group dropping more than 6% before markets closed. British American Tobacco dropped about 3.3%, and Phillip Morris dropped about 1.6%.

The goal of a ban on menthol cigarettes would be to curb smoking among young people, the Journal reported. A majority of people aged 12-17 who smoke use menthol cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The US Food and Drug Administration has said it will decide whether to take action on menthol cigarettes by April 29, following a civil petition that was filed several years ago.

By drastically reducing the overall levels of nicotine in cigarettes, the administration aims to make them less addictive and promote less dangerous alternatives like lozenges or e-cigarettes, according to the Journal.

The White House did not immediately return Insider's request for comment. An FDA spokesperson declined to comment.

Nicotine is the addictive component in tobacco products, but it's not what makes them deadly, according to the FDA. It's the mix of chemicals found in cigarettes that causes serious lung diseases like cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the agency says.

According to the FDA, tobacco use causes more than 480,000 deaths in the US each year. It increases the risk of stroke, is a major cause of cardiovascular disease, and accounts for one in three cancer deaths in the US.


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