FDA to crack down on menthol cigarettes, flavored vapes

Marco Green
November 15, 2018

FBN's Stuart Varney on the FDA's potential restrictions on flavored e-cigarettes and NY state's efforts to ban flavored e-cigarettes completely.

A top USA health official is pledging to try to ban menthol from regular cigarettes, outlaw flavors in all cigars and tighten rules regarding the sale of most flavored versions of e-cigarettes. The proposed menthol ban will be the most aggressive action the agency has taken against the tobacco industry in more than a decade as it looks to further push down USA smoking rates, which have been falling for decades.

Putting the planned ban into effect could take as long as two years before the restriction takes effect.

Packs of menthol cigarettes and other tobacco products at a store in San Francisco. Scott Gottlieb pledged to ban menthol from cigarettes, in what could be a major step to further push down US smoking rates.

Moreover, Gottlieb adds that he believes that menthol products "disproportionately and adversely affect underserved communities and as a matter of public health, they exacerbate troubling disparities in health related to race and socioeconomic status that are a major concern of mine".

Battery-powered e-cigarettes are more popular among teens than regular smokes and are considered safer.

"The changes I seek would protect kids by having all flavored ENDs products - other than tobacco, mint and menthol flavors or non-flavored products - sold in age-restricted, in-person locations and, if sold online, under heightened practices for age verification", Gottlieb said.

Past year the FDA under Gottlieb extended until 2022 a deadline for many e-cigarette products to comply with new federal rules on marketing and public health. The expectation was based on the FDA's move to ban flavored cigarettes in 2009 - one of its first tobacco regulations handed down after Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009.

Menthol cigarettes represent more than 30 percent of US cigarette volumes and approximately 55 percent of British American Tobacco Plc's USA volumes, through its Newport brand, according to a research note from AllianceBernstein earlier this week. But some say adult smokers switching to e-cigarettes have also helped drive down the rate in recent years.

More than 3 million high school students, or more than 20 percent of all US high school students, used the products, along with 570,000 middle school students, according to the survey. The data show that kids using e-cigarettes are going to be more likely to try combustible cigarettes later. Getting out ahead of today's FDA announcement, Juul on Tuesday stopped filling store orders for mango, fruit, creme and cucumber pods and will resume sales only to retailers that scan IDs and take other steps to verify a buyer is at least 21.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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