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Almost half of Americans surveyed say they would support government regulation of nicotine levels in cigarettes, HealthDay reports.

The survey found almost 47 percent of U.S. adults would support a move by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lower nicotine levels in cigarettes. The FDA has the authority to reduce nicotine levels, but has not done so, the article notes. About 16 percent of those surveyed opposed FDA regulation of nicotine levels, while almost 38 percent had no opinion.

“Nicotine reduction could be a promising tool to protect the population from the harm and death caused by tobacco products,” study lead author Jennifer Pearson of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at the Legacy Foundation said in a news release. “This study shows us that such measures could be acceptable to a large number of Americans.”

The researchers suggest that decreasing nicotine in cigarettes could reduce the number of young people who start smoking, and also may make it easier to quit smoking.

Smokers who are considering quitting are more likely to support government regulation of nicotine levels than those who are not thinking about giving up cigarettes, the survey found.  Support for nicotine reduction was highest among Hispanics, African Americans, and those with less than a high school education. The findings are published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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