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Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

The White House is exploring whether to make tobacco companies reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The policy would make nicotine levels so low that cigarettes wouldn't be addictive, and wouldn't satisfy nicotine addiction — theoretically pushing smokers to buy less harmful tobacco products instead.

The big picture: Nicotine reduction has been on the Food and Drug Administration's radar for years, and could prevent nearly 8 million premature deaths, according to agency estimates.

  • What they're saying: "We advanced this major public health endeavor ... and the White House should secure this effort," former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted on Monday.

What's next: The FDA is also supposed to announce a decision by late April on whether to ban menthol tobacco products.

Go deeper

Updated 24 mins ago - World

Ukraine crisis: Blinken to visit Kyiv, then meet Russian foreign minister

Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, following a trip to Kyiv to reinforce U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of a possible Russian invasion, according to a senior U.S. official.

Why it matters: The meeting with Lavrov suggests a diplomatic resolution to the crisis may still be on the table, despite the collapse of security talks between Russia and the West last week.

Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Transplants rebound from COVID lull — CDC director says COVID-19 messaging should have been clearer — Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines.
  2. Vaccines: Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — America's vaccination drive runs out of gas.
  3. Politics: Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 — Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health."
  4. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  5. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — French parliament passes COVID vaccine passport legislation.
  6. Variant tracker

Mayors feel powerless to reduce homelessness

Expand chart
Recreated from 2021 Menino Survey of Mayors; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

America's mayors know their constituents hold them accountable for homelessness, but many don't feel they have the tools or power to fix things, a brand new survey says.

Why it matters: While homelessness has become more acute during the pandemic, city leaders say they lack the money, staff or political support needed to make a meaningful difference.