The US Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule that public health experts think could save hundreds of thousands of lives in a “momentous” move toward outlawing menthol in cigarettes and flavored cigars.
Since many years ago, the FDA has raised the possibility of outlawing menthol and flavored cigars, claiming that the matter is crucial to the organization.
It declared in April that it will proceed with the proposed product standard limits because they “have the potential to significantly reduce disease and death,” as well as “youth experimentation and addiction,” and to boost the number of smokers who give up.
“Finalizing these two product standards remains a top priority for the FDA. The posting of both rules on the OMB website means they have reached the final step of review for regulatory documents,” Dr. Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in an email to CNN.
The Office of Management and Budget is being urged to act fast and speed up the evaluation so that the final regulations can be published by the end of the year by the association and a number of other organizations, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“Once implemented, they will protect kids from tobacco addiction, advance health equity and save hundreds of thousands of lives, especially Black lives,” said Yolonda Richardson, president and CEO ofCampaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
However, the nationwide Association of Tobacco Outlets, a nationwide trade group that represents more than 66,000 tobacco product retailers, does not believe that a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars will instantly cause a large number of smokers to give up their habit. It asserts that, instead, it will encourage criminal activities.
Scientists have known for a long time that cigarettes with menthol flavors can be more addictive than those with tobacco flavors. Because it hides the unpleasant taste of tobacco, menthol flavoring is appealing, especially to beginning users, and a 2015 study revealed that it encourages smoking more.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco corporations have aggressively targeted minority groups with menthol marketing for years. The targeted outreach has been quite successful, especially among Black people, and menthol cigarettes have contributed to widening health inequities.