Over two years ago, I critiqued an article in Tobacco Control that I labeled “another thinly veiled call for reducing nicotine to ‘non-addictive levels’ in cigarettes” (my blog post is here ). Zeller was one of the authors of that article. In the press release from the University of Minnesota (still available here ), Zeller commented: “Imagine a world where the only cigarettes that kids could experiment with would neither create nor sustain addiction.”
I said then that … “it doesn’t take an active imagination to appreciate the disaster that would result from radical reduction (prohibition) of nicotine in cigarettes.” I wrote that Zeller and his coauthors “are clueless about the effects of radically reducing nicotine in cigarettes. Yet…,” they make “…nicotine prohibition sound like the perfect solution” for the nation’s 45 million smokers.
I am less concerned that Zeller used to work with GlaxoSmithKline than I am with the possibility that he might steer the FDA to reduce nicotine levels in tobacco products to the nonaddictive level in GSK’s nicotine medicines. Those levels, the data show, don’t satisfy smokers and result in a 93% failure rate for smoking cessation (discussed here ).