The tobacco giant is concerned over the FDA’s nicotine messaging and what they view as misconceptions about the substance.

Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group asked the Food and Drug Administration and its Center for Tobacco Products to clarify the agency’s position on nicotine.

CSP Daily News reports that Altria wants the Center for Tobacco Products to “correct the deeply entrenched public misperceptions regarding the health risks of nicotine.”

This favor was asked by Paige Magness, Altria’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs, via a letter directly addressed to CTP director Mitch Zeller.

“Left unaddressed, these widespread nicotine misperceptions could discourage adult smokers from switching to non-combustible tobacco products that may present lower health risk as compared to combustible cigarettes,” Magness said in a letter.

Altria made the letter public, reports CSP Daily News. According to the FDA, nicotine is viewed on a continuum of risk. For instance, the FDA argues that “products containing nicotine pose different levels of health risk to adult users, with combustible products—like cigarettes, with their toxic mix of more than 7,000 chemicals and efficient delivery of nicotine to maximize addiction potential—being the most harmful.”

Nicotine replacement therapies are considered the least harmful, as noncombustible products fall “somewhere in between.” Such a position is crucial due to its similar emulation to the official position of agencies like Public Health England (PHE).

PHE is one of the only governmental public health institutions to claim that e-cigarettes and non-combustible products are at least 95 to 98 percent safer than regular cigarettes.

Tobacco harm reduction advocates have argued that nicotine is relatively benign while still being addictive. Nevertheless, the real risks of smoking come from the combustion and the inhalation of cigarettes which transmit over 7,000 harmful chemicals.

“The FDA has received the letter and will respond directly to Altria,” FDA press officer Alison Hunt told CSP Daily News.

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