Adult smokers are seeking new options, including those that reduce risk. In fact, as of September 2020, our research estimates 12 million adult tobacco consumers ages 21-54 are interested in switching from cigarettes to a different tobacco product.1

Tobacco companies are responding with innovative, smoke-free products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is evaluating the science and authorizing those products that have met stringent criteria to demonstrate they are “appropriate for the protection of public health.” And it’s requiring a robust post-marketing surveillance to monitor that those products continue to meet authorization standards.

Now is the time to realize the opportunity of harm reduction for adult tobacco consumers. Adult smokers are interested in alternatives. Innovative products are available. Science exists to support harm reduction, and there is robust regulatory framework designed to protect public health.

Moving Beyond Smoking

Our 2025 Goals

 

  • Accelerate investments in innovation, science and regulatory support for new smoke-free product platforms.
  • Create the conditions for tobacco harm reduction to succeed through external communications and engagement, science and advocacy.

We're building a diversified business model with smoke-free products to further our harm reduction goals and achieve our Vision to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a smoke-free future.

Importantly, we will work within the framework that government, public health and regulatory bodies have established to communicate about reduced harm choices. And for any tobacco consumer who wants to quit, we offer access to a breadth of information from experts on how to do so successfully. 

The actions we are taking will create a different Altria – and a different landscape that we believe will benefit today's adult tobacco consumers, our business and the thousands we employ. That's why we're focused on Moving Beyond SmokingTM by providing more potentially reduced harm alternatives.

"For decades we have been committed to offering adult smokers better alternatives and ensuring a regulatory framework to determine if those products offer lower risk and how to appropriately communicate about them. That future is here and, at Altria, we embrace it.

Paige Magness
Senior Vice President
Regulatory Affairs

FDA's Regulatory Authority over Tobacco Products

The success of tobacco harm reduction in the United States hinges on a regulatory framework that allows manufacturers to provide adult tobacco consumers with potentially reduced-risk tobacco products and communicate accurate health information about them.

This includes the ability to make reduced-harm claims about products that are proven to be lower risk than cigarettes. The FDA acts as the arbiter of this framework, with authority over nearly all aspects of the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products.

Federal Regulation of Tobacco

Science- and evidence-based federal regulation will help address societal concerns about tobacco products and promote and protect public health.
With the FDA's expansive authority to define the tobacco marketplace, the Agency is in the leading position to create a mature, regulated tobacco marketplace that successfully reduces the harm caused by cigarettes by:

  • timely scientific review and authorization of potential reduced risk-tobacco products; 
  • monitoring manufacturers' post-market surveillance data and quickly identifying and remediating emerging issues (e.g., uptick in underage use of a newly authorized product); 
  • helping to correct nicotine misperceptions and communicate the relative risks of different products to encourage adult smoker transition to smoke-free products; and 
  • investing in proven tactics to prevent and reduce underage tobacco use.

The FDA is the only federal agency with the Congressional mandate and the necessary authority and resources to advance tobacco harm reduction. That's why the Agency's ability to coordinate federal strategy and drive efficient resource allocation towards these efforts is crucial for reducing the death and disease associated with cigarettes.

Nicotine Misperceptions & The "Risk Cliff"

Persistent misperceptions regarding the role of nicotine and the relative risks of different tobacco products prove to be a significant obstacle to adult smokers' switching to potentially reduced-harm products. For example, a study from the Health Information National Trends Survey found "a high prevalence of incorrect beliefs about the relationship between nicotine and cancer."2 Specifically, the study found "Most people (73%) either incorrectly believed that nicotine is the main substance in cigarettes that causes cancer or were unsure about the relationship between nicotine and cancer."3

FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) Education Campaign

Altria supports the FDA’s CTPs education campaign and believes the FDA plays a critical role in helping to correct the misperceptions regarding the health risks of nicotine.

As the FDA states on its website: "Most people know that cigarettes and other tobacco products are addictive, but many people do not understand the role of nicotine in tobacco addiction, disease, and death. Nicotine is what addicts and keeps people using tobacco products, but it is not what makes tobacco use so deadly. Tobacco and tobacco smoke contain thousands of chemicals. It is this mix of chemicals–not nicotine–that causes serious disease and death in tobacco users, including fatal lung diseases, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancer."4

The FDA and other public health authorities agree that there is a broad "continuum of risk" among tobacco products, with cigarettes at the highest end of that spectrum and complete cessation at the lowest end.5 In fact, when the FDA announced its Comprehensive Plan in 2017, then-FDA Commissioner Gottlieb stated FDA policy should be used as a vehicle to "move addicted smokers down that continuum of risk to these less harmful [innovative] products."6 The then-Commissioner also shared his concerns regarding the widespread misperceptions around nicotine among the American public.

While there may be differences in risk profiles between specific smoke-free products, it will take years of epidemiology to quantify those differences. The body of evidence, does however, indicate a profound risk differential between combustible and smoke-free product categories. Data suggest that a two dimensional "Risk Cliff" model is a useful description of the relative risk between combusted products (such as cigarettes and cigars) and smoke-free products (such as moist smokeless tobacco, heated tobacco, e-vapor and oral nicotine pouches).

The millions of U.S. adult smokers seeking less harmful alternatives to cigarettes deserve to be informed about the role of nicotine and the relative risks of different tobacco products.

The FDA, the public health community and tobacco manufacturers all have a role to play in addressing misinformation that hinders progress on harm reduction. We believe it is our responsibility to help create the conditions for harm reduction to succeed – through education, awareness and advocacy – as we build a strong portfolio of smoke-free products that satisfy adult smokers’ evolving interests and preferences.


Maria Gogova Photo

The Path Forward on Harm Reduction

Maria Gogova's, M.D., Ph.D., Remarks 

"My perspective on where we are, and how we make progress, is rooted not only in my passion as a scientist, but in my training and experience as a physician."

Helping Reduce UTP Use Photo

Communicating Tobacco Health Effects

The public should be guided by the messages of the U.S. Surgeon General, the FDA and other public health authorities worldwide in making decisions concerning the use of tobacco products.

Prevent Underage Use

Tobacco products are for adults. And we recognize that underage use of tobacco products threatens the opportunity to reduce harm among adult smokers.
Submit Your Idea Image

Submit Your Idea

We believe true innovation involves collaboration and engagement. If you have a concept, methodology or other technology you would like to share, visit the visit the Altria Open Innovation Portal.

1 Tobacco Landscape 2.0 Study, Q3 2020
2 O'Brien, E. K., Nguyen, A. B., Persoskie, A., & Hoffman, A. C. (2016). U.S. adults' addiction and harm beliefs about nicotine and low nicotine cigarettes. Preventive Medicine, 96, 94-100. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.12.048
3 Id.
Nicotine: The Addictive Chemical in Tobacco Products, Food & Drug Administration, August 28, 2020 View Source
5 "… we must acknowledge that there’s a continuum of risk for nicotine delivery. That continuum ranges from combustible cigarettes at one end, to medicinal nicotine products at the other.” Remarks by Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Protecting American Families: Comprehensive Approach to Nicotine and Tobacco (June 28, 2017), available at https://www.fda.gov/news-events/speeches-fda-officials/protecting-american-families-comprehensive-approach-nicotine-and-tobacco-06282017.
6 Id.
7 Adapted from Nutt, et. al Estimating the Harms of Nicotine-Containing Products Using the MCDA Approach. Eur. Addict Res 2014; 20:218-225.