According to The Verge, although the FDA can't ban nicotine from cigarettes, it can set the maximum amount cigarettes can hold, which is how they may reduce nicotine to the "non-addictive" levels they cite in the announcement.
Regulators aim to move smokers toward the potentially less harmful e-cigarettes.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has shaken things up in his 81 days on the job, proposing major policy shifts to ease regulations on some companies, such as in the way generic-drug applications are processed so that cheaper medicines can reach consumers faster.
The main component of e-cigarettes, liquid nicotine, is not recorded as a drug in India, and thus can not be prohibited under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940.
He added that tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease in the US causing almost half a million deaths each year.
Nicotine patches, gums and medications are known to aid smoking cessation, but there is no consensus on whether vaping devices can help anti-smoking efforts. Smoking rates, though, have been falling for decades and are at about 15 percent. Testing e-cigarette and vapor products was costly, and was also a vague process.
The agency says that to make this successful, it intends to extend timelines to submit tobacco product review applications for newly regulated tobacco products that were on the market as of August 8, 2016. Most devices heat a liquid nicotine solution into vapor and were promoted to smokers as a less unsafe alternative since they do not contain all the chemicals, tar or odor of regular cigarettes. "Reducing nicotine doesn't make a cigarette safe, it just makes it less addictive", said Donny, director of Pitt's Center for the Evaluation of Nicotine in Cigarettes. The agency wants to strike "an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging development of innovative tobacco products that may be less risky than cigarettes".
The latest results strongly suggest that more lenient control of e-cigarettes could improve population health, said Bullen, a professor of public health at the University of Auckland.
"If you can separate the nicotine people are craving from the smoke that's killing them, then you may be doing something very important", Warner said.
The U.S. research is the largest look yet at electronic cigarette users and it found e-cigarettes played a role in helping people quit.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president Matthew Myers praised the overall approach as "a bold and comprehensive vision" but called the e-cigarettes delay "a serious error".
"If every smoker was to change over to e-cigarettes completely, there would be a dramatic and nearly immediate public health benefit", he said in an email.
Gottlieb touched on premium cigars in his announcement, saying the agency wants to hear from the industry about their patterns of use and public health impacts.