The FDA has announced the potential for mandated lowering of nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes. The World Health Organization has recommended a lowering of cigarette filler nicotine levels to below 0.4 mg/g. To devise appropriate nicotine control strategies, regulators must consider technical feasibility, timelines for compliance, and potential impediments to implementation. Outlined here is previously unsummarized information on genetic approaches that might be used to reduce nicotine levels in cured tobacco leaves. For the benefit of regulators, altered alkaloid or toxicant profiles that might result by implementation of some of these methodologies are discussed. Also mentioned are potential licensing or regulatory impediments to use of some of the technologies per se.
An understanding of technical feasibility of plant-based nicotine reduction technologies, along with the potential for corresponding alterations in alkaloid or toxicant profiles, is needed by regulators in order to develop effective nicotine control strategies with minimal impediments or undesirable consequences.