Proposed FDA ban on menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, a win for public health

May 10, 2022—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed new rules that ban the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars, according to an April 28, 2022 announcement. The agency is taking public comments through July 5 and will then make a final decision on the regulations.

“I see no downside to eliminating menthol from cigarettes,” Vaughan Rees, director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a May 9 Popular Science article. “I think the U.S. is finally coming to grips with this long-standing issue, and I sincerely hope that the FDA takes decisive action on it.”

Rees noted that menthol additives in tobacco products create a cooling and mildly anesthetic effect which makes smoking smoother and easier, and encourages deeper inhalations. Menthol also increases nicotine’s addictiveness, according to the FDA.

Manufacturers have long targeted Black Americans with advertisements for menthol cigarettes, which remain the overwhelming preference among Black smokers. Although they smoke at similar rates as the general population, Black smokers experience greater health consequences from the habit. This has been linked in part to their higher consumption of menthol cigarettes.

Read the Popular Science article: The FDA is prepping its biggest cigarette crackdown since the ’60s