The FDA has approved the sale of a type of cigarette that has significantly less nicotine than regular cigarettes.
The agency gave 22nd Century Group the green light to start selling Moonlight and Moonlight Menthol cigarettes. They are the first low-nicotine cigarettes to be reviewed by federal regulators.
The Moonlight products have at least 95% less nicotine than typical commercial cigarettes, according to the FDA. The agency said the products met the requirements of the Tobacco Control Act, but that does not mean the products are safe or FDA-approved. It stressed that "there are no safe tobacco products."
Mitch Zeller, the director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, said these products could potentially "help reduce nicotine dependence among addicted smokers." That said, the FDA plans to keep an eye on how 22nd Century Group proceeds.
In a statement, Zeller said: "We'll be closely monitoring how Moonlight and Moonlight Menthol are marketed and will take action as necessary if the company fails to comply with any applicable statutory or regulatory requirements or if there is a notable increase in the number of non-smokers, including youth, using these products."
FDA-sponsored studies have found smokers who switch to low-nicotine cigarettes tend to smoke less and are more likely to try to quit.