FDA says it will ban all menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars

FDA moves to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars

FDA moves to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars

The Biden administration is reportedly planning to ban menthol cigarettes in a move that activists say would help Black Americans who are disproportionately harmed by the tobacco industry, but critics claim it will do the opposite. Public health groups filed a lawsuit a year ago in federal district court in Northern California to require the FDA to respond to the petition. Instead, it promised that it will work toward developing a regulation banning these products "within the next year".

The ban on menthol cigarettes will be announced this week, according to CBS News and The Washington Post, citing people "familiar with the plan". In the agency's statement, the FDA promised that the ban will only target "manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers" of menthol products. The FDA does not have a police force or take action against individual users, they add. "Menthol has always been the tobacco industry's most sacrosanct flavor, responsible for addicting millions of people to their deadly products", former CDC Director Richard Besser said in a statement. With a similar ban up for a vote in California, Governor Gavin Newsom praised the restriction, stating, "I urge the federal government to follow California's leadership to protect public health and advance racial equity by moving to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes". More than 85% of mentholated brand users are Black, almost 47% are Hispanic, 38% are Asian, almost 29% are White, according to the CDC.

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"There is not an open question on whether menthol in cigarettes is harmful - the evidence is overwhelming and consistent", Joelle Lester, director of commercial tobacco control programs at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Minnesota, told the Post https://wapo.st/3nvuQAM. Recent research published in the BMJ found that 21.5% of menthol smokers surveyed two years after the Canadian ban had quit smoking, though 59.1% switched to non-menthol cigarettes and another 19.5% smoked menthols sold by First Nation tribes. Pediatricians have long called for a ban on flavored tobacco products, including menthol. For novice smokers, the taste of a cigarette can be too harsh, whereas, flavors make it easier for beginners to try the product. For decades, Big Tobacco has targeted and profited from Black communities with marketing for minty menthol cigarettes and as a result, smoking-related illnesses are the number one cause of death among Black Americans.

On Thursday, the American Academy of Pediatrics applauded the announcement from the US Food and Drug Administration, calling this an "important step forward".

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