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US FDA Proposes Ban on Menthol Cigarettes - Who Will This Affect?

The proposed ban is predicted to reduce smoking by 15% in the next 40 years.

Updated
Health News
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The US Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, on Wednesday, 28 April.

While some reports call the move "a major victory for anti-smoking groups" they add that it could lead to harsh backlash from the tobacco industry.

The move is still in its proposal stage and is yet to be finalized. The Biden administration first proposed the ban in 2021.

The move was welcomed by the National Association For the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). Menthol cigarettes account for over 30 percent of the profit revenue for British American Tobacco.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), menthol cigarettes are also heavily marketed toward youth and the black community.

The CDC adds that 7 out of 10 smokers in the 12-17 years range from the black community reported that they smoked menthol cigarettes.

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Why Ban Menthol Cigarettes?

Like we mentioned above, the primary target market for menthol cigarettes is minority communities, mostly African American.

The CDC states that menthol in cigarettes is believed to make the absorption of harmful chemicals from the cigarette easier because menthol smoke is easier to inhale.

Further, the advertising and promotion of menthol cigarettes is heavily targeted towards minority communities, including through support of cultural events, contributions to minority higher education institutions, and even scholarship programs.

"In 2019, there were more than 18.5 million menthol cigarette smokers aged 12 and older in the United States. A large number of those were young members of the African American and other racial and ethnic communities."
US Food and Drugs Administration

The CDC states that 72.8 percent of african american smokers aged 18 or older report that they want to quit smoking.

What Would Be the Impact of the Ban on Menthol Cigarettes?

The FDA said that the ban on menthol cigarettes, once implemented, would lead to a 15 percent reduction in smoking over 40 years.

British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco, two of the largest tobacco companies in the US have stated that they aren't too concerned, and expect the ban to take years to be implemented.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also put out a statement opposing the ban, saying that it would lead an increase in crime, citing the case of Eric Garner, "a black man who was killed by NYPD for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes".

As of this report, the ban is still a proposal, and will be put out for the public's feedback and comment from 5 May to 5 July 2022.

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