Joe Biden to Propose Ban on Menthol Cigarettes

Lawrence Kim
April 29, 2021

The tobacco industry would nearly certainly challenge in court any final regulation banning menthol cigarettes, and in the past has repeatedly sued the FDA in an effort to block anti-tobacco regulation.

The FDA said it will work to create new product standards within the next year.

The Post noted that some black leaders, including Rev. Al Sharpton, are also against banning menthol smokes and say it's discriminatory precisely because of the product's popularity among African Americans.

Support has also grown in Congress to enact a ban through legislation, via NYT. Campaign finance disclosures revealed the tobacco industry spent more than $20 million past year alone opposing the legislation. Over 7 out of 10 Black youths ages 12-17 who reported smoking use menthol cigarettes, and Black adults have the highest percentage of menthol cigarette use compared to other racial groups.

"The FDA has taken a historic, life-saving step. Menthol has always been the tobacco industry's most sacrosanct flavor, responsible for addicting millions of people to their deadly products", former CDC Director Richard Besser said in a statement. "Banning menthol cigarettes will most assuredly save lives, eliminate great suffering, and reduce health care costs".

Tobacco companies are expected to challenge the decision in court.

Menthol-flavored cigarettes are considered a "tremendous public health threat" for kids, according to the Tobacco Free Kids organization. Should the FDA's decision stand, it would decimate roughly one-third of the US cigarette market, costing the industry billions. "The results are clear and grim", said American Medical President Susan R. Bailey, MD said in a statement supporting the ban.

Public health groups argue the ban will push smokers to finally quit.

Menthol flavoring is also believed to be more addictive and harder to quit. They note that a ban would apply to manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, not to consumers. The agency can not take action against individuals who would possess or use menthol tobacco products. With a similar ban up for a vote in California, Governor Gavin Newsom praised the restriction, stating, "I urge the federal government to follow California's leadership to protect public health and advance racial equity by moving to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes".

The proposed ban will likely be announced Thursday (April 29) according to CBS News, partly due to the Food and Drug Administration's court deadline to respond to a citizens' proposal to ban menthol products by that day.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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