The Food and Drug Administration announced on April 29 that it plans to ban menthol tobacco cigarettes and all flavored cigars soon in the United States. The FDA is working toward issuing proposed product standards within the next year to halt the sale of flavored tobacco products.
Tobacco companies have aggressively marketed their products to Black people for years and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that even though Black people tend to smoke fewer cigarettes than white people, they’re more likely to die from smoking-related diseases. The Washington Post also reported that cheaper deals and prices are also given on menthol cigarettes sold in African American communities. Menthol is a popular cigarette ingredient because it offsets the harsh taste of tobacco and nicotine irritation by producing a cooling sensation in the throat.
“For far too long, certain populations, including African Americans, have been targeted, and disproportionately impacted by tobacco use. Despite the tremendous progress we’ve made in getting people to stop smoking over the past 55 years, that progress hasn’t been experienced by everyone equally,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products in a statement to the Associated Press.
If implemented, the FDA’s enforcement of any ban on menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars will solely address manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers. The FDA cannot and will not enforce any action against individual consumer possession or individual use of menthol cigarettes and tobacco products.
“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,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, explained in the statement from the FDA.
Products affected would include Newport cigarettes as well as Backwoods and other flavored cigars many people use to smoke cannabis.