The US FDA bans flavored tobacco products to try and reduce the overall number of lives negatively impacted by smoking and tobacco use. The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars are going to be outlawed with the aim of significantly reducing disease and death.
“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,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said. “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.”
The FDA said they hope to have the ban in place by this time next year. According to the CDC, more than one third of all cigarettes sold in the United States in 2018 were menthol flavored. According to CNN, studies have found that menthol flavoring increases appeal of tobacco products due to the cooling sensation it gives the throat, leading to easier smoke inhalation. This can cause more people to become regular smokers, in addition to menthol being believed to have more addictive chemicals. If banned, approximately 923,000 smokers would quit using tobacco, according to the CDC.
The ban on menthol and other flavors has been coming for more than a decade. In 2009, congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products and prohibited all flavors except menthol and tobacco, but no progress was made on banning menthol outright until 2020, when various activist groups filed suit against the FDA, who tried to get the lawsuit dismissed in court. In December of 2019, the smoking age was raised from 18 to 21, making it more difficult for minors to buy tobacco products. With these efforts put in place, the FDA, CDC and all other parties involved hope to save millions of lives from the dangers of smoking cigarettes and cigars, especially those with flavor.
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