FDA Proposes Ban on Menthol Tobacco in the US

The proposal has yet to reach the implementation stage – it must go through rounds of public comments and objections before it can be passed, and then it is likely to face legal challenges. from tobacco companies and others.

We explain why the FDA rejected menthol cigarettes, why these tobaccos are used more by the African American community, and the debate surrounding the proposal.

The FDA plans to expand the ban nationwide.

The FDA said it has launched “Proposed product standard to ban menthol as a signature flavor in tobacco and to ban all signature flavors (except tobacco) in cigars. “

Proposed rules will help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adults quitHealth and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said.

Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by dramatically reducing tobacco-related health disparities.. “

The proposed ban does not include e-cigarettes.

The FDA has made it clear that it “cannot and will not enforce against individual consumers to possess or use menthol cigarettes or flavored cigars“and the rules will only”address the manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers that manufacture, distribute or sell such products. “

The agency says menthol, with its minty flavor and aroma, “Reduces the irritation and harshness of smoking. This increases the appeal and makes menthol cigarettes easier to use, especially for young adults and young adults.

Menthol also interacts with nicotine in the brain to enhance the addictive effects of nicotine, while making it harder for people to quit.”

The agency said “model studies have estimated a 15% reduction in smoking over 40 years” if menthol cigarettes were banned.

The high rates of use of these tobacco means that the proposed ban would affect a large portion of the smoking population, particularly youth and racially disadvantaged groups, who are less likely to get advice and support from the organization to quit smoking.

The FDA says that in 2019, “There are now more than 18.5 million menthol smokers 12 years of age or older in the United States. “

Aside from menthol, all other flavorings in cigarettes were banned in the US in 2009.

According to different activist groups, for decades tobacco companies have used “hunt” and “targeted“advertising to lure black consumers toward menthol cigarettes, which are harder to quit and more harmful to health.

Efforts have extended beyond advertising to include marketing techniques as well. Again according to the CDC, tobacco companies use “price promotions such as multi-pack discounts and coupons — most commonly used by African Americans and other minorities, women and young adults — to increase sales“area has”Large racial/ethnic populations tend to have more tobacco retailers. “

Menthol products are offered more space in retail stores in African-Americans and other minority populations. “

Smoking also affects communities harder than whites – the CDC says that although “African-Americans tend to smoke less and start smoking at an older age, they are more likely to die from smoking-related diseases than whites. “

So when the FDA announced its ban on Thursday, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP) citizen organization called it “”victory for black America. “

NAACP President Derrick Johnson was quoted by The New York Times as saying, “These products have killed our children, our parents, our brothers and sisters, and our livelihoods. After fighting against deadly menthol products for decades, today is a victory for Black America.. “

Tobacco companies have denied scientific evidence that menthol cigarettes are more harmful than regular cigarettes. Other critics argue that the ban will cost the government significant revenue, while some argue it will do more harm than good to African Americans.

Altria, one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, said “Harm reduction, not prohibition, is the better way forward.

Taking these products out of the legal market puts them in a criminal, unregulated market that doesn’t follow any regulations and bypasses minimum age laws.“, Altria said in a statement.

Think Tank Tax has stated that if the ban goes into effect, the federal and state governments together “could lose more than $6.6 billion in the first full year after being banned. “

Some activists have flagged concerns that the ban could push Black smokers towards “criminalization. “

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement, “There are serious concerns that the ban implemented by the Biden administration will ultimately foster an underground market that will inevitably trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color and priorities. further criminalize public health and reduce harm. “

India has not banned the sale of menthol cigarettes.

Source: Medindia

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