After years of campaigning by public health experts and civil rights activists to outlaw menthol cigarettes, the Biden administration announced on Thursday its intention to ban menthol cigarettes and flavoured cigars.
The White House officials in this matter spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Banning menthol—the last allowable flavor—in cigarettes and banning all flavors in cigars will help save lives, particularly among those disproportionately affected by these deadly products. With these actions, the FDA will help significantly reduce youth initiation, increase the chances of smoking cessation among current smokers, and address health disparities experienced by communities of color, low-income populations, and LGBTQ+ individuals, all of whom are far more likely to use these tobacco products,” Acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D., said in a statement.
Woodcock expressed the hope and belief that these bans would “launch us on a trajectory toward ending tobacco-related disease and death in the U.S.” The FDA pointed to studies suggesting that a menthol ban would help people quit smoking, noting that menthol makes tobacco more palatable and “facilitates progression to regular smoking, particularly among youth and young adults.” A study carried out at the University of Waterloo Canada “suggests that banning menthol cigarettes in the U.S. would lead an additional 923,000 smokers to quit, including 230,000 African Americans in the first 13 to 17 months after a ban goes into effect,” the FDA statement said.
In total, approximately 20 million Americans smoke menthols, according to the FDA. Last year, the House passed a bill banning all flavored e-cigarettes and menthols, but the legislation did not clear the Senate. If the ban is implemented, the FDA said individual users would not be affected. “Enforcement of any ban on menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars will only address manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers,” the FDA’s statement said. “The FDA cannot and will not enforce against individual consumer possession or use of menthol cigarettes or any tobacco product.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: COMPLEX