A Marlboro cigarette.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Marlboro parent Altria is asking the Food and Drug Administration to help it spread the word that nicotine doesn’t cause cancer.
Bloomberg News said it reviewed a letter that Altria sent to the FDA asking the agency help get the message out about nicotine as part of a proposed advertising campaign about the risks of tobacco use.
“We have received the letter and will respond directly to the company,” FDA spokeswoman Alison Hunt told CNBC in an email. Altria was not immediately available to comment on the matter.
In the letter, Altria reportedly cited government studies about the misperceptions around nicotine, and said that the move would be crucial in helping traditional smokers transition to noncombustible methods for nicotine.
While the vast majority of Altria’s revenue comes from selling cigarettes and cigars, it also owns a stake in vaping company Juul, a nicotine pouch brand On! and it markets IQOS, a smoke-free tobacco product that heats tobacco instead of burning it, in the U.S.
There are at least 60 carcinogens in cigarette smoke, but these newer products deliver nicotine without burning it. As Altria’s regulator, the FDA can determine what claims it can make about its products.
The FDA has allowed Altria to market IQOS as providing users with less exposure to harmful chemicals than cigarette smoke.
Nicotine is the ingredient that makes tobacco addictive, and it may have other negative impacts. The article mentions studies that have shown nicotine can interfere with brain development and birth outcomes, and act as an agricultural poison in large doses.