Why FDA is proposing ban on menthol cigarettes
- The new rule could likely reduce the risk of disease and deaths from cigarette use as well
- The new proposed rules are build on the Family Smoking Prevention Tobacco Control Act
- Nearly 18.5 million menthol cigarette smokers ages are 12 and older in the US
The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a new ban on using characterizing flavors in all tobacco except cigars as well as one on menthol. The new rule, proposed on Thursday says it would reduce the risk of disease and deaths from cigarette use as well.
The agency says the proposal has the potential to significantly decrease disease and death related to tobacco by "reducing youth experimentation and addiction."
"The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities."
The new proposed rules are build on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was signed into law in 2009 by former US President Barack Obama. The law prohibited all characterizing flavors except tobacco and menthol in cigarettes.
"The authority to adopt tobacco product standards is one of the most powerful tools Congress gave the FDA and the actions we are proposing can help significantly reduce youth initiation and increase the chances that current smokers quit," the FDA's commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf, said in the statement.
"It will save lives, especially in Black and brown communities in the United States, and it will reduce youth smoking," Sward said. "It will also lead to fewer people being diagnosed or getting lung disease, cancers and heart disease."
Nearly 18.5 million menthol cigarette smokers ages are 12 and older in the US, according to the FDA. Rates of menthol cigarette use were higher among young people and in Black communities.
"The tobacco industry, over the years, they have been ruthless with their targeting," Portia Reddick White, vice president of policy and legislative affairs for the NAACP told NPR. "They actually have targeted in many ways, advertising discounting prices that appeal or sponsoring events, actually giving money to Black educational institutions and civic leaders."
Estimates predict that a ban on menthol would cause a 15% reduction in smoke. It will also cause a reduction in 324,000 to 654,000 smoking-related deaths, both over the course of 40 years.
Dennis Henigan of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says the proposal will survive legal challenges.
"I believe that the science is so strong in support of these rules and the lifesaving potential is so well established that these rules will be finalized and they will survive court challenge," Henigan told NPR.
The FDA will seek public comment on the proposal for 60 days.