U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, offered his support this week for efforts by the Food and Drug Administration to reduce nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive or minimally-addictive levels.

FDA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on March 15 announcing its intention to exercise this authority by exploring a product standard that would set the maximum nicotine level in cigarettes at non-addictive or minimally addictive levels.

In comments submitted to the FDA this week, Blumenthal and other Senate Democrats suggested that the agency expand its initiative to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes by including other tobacco products such as cigars. They also urged FDA to work swiftly so that a final rule can be adopted and fully implemented by March 2020.

“FDA’s own estimates found that reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes could prevent tens of millions of individuals from ever becoming smokers and save eight million lives by the end of the century. Over the next five years alone, a nicotine product standard would help 13 million people quit smoking altogether,” the senators wrote in the letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “By taking swift and thorough action to reduce nicotine levels, the FDA can help save millions of lives and positively impact public health for generations to come.”

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was enacted in 2009, gave the FDA wide-ranging authority to regulate tobacco products. This includes the authority to implement standards on the level of nicotine in tobacco products.