WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Thursday that it’s moving forward with its effort to ban menthol cigarettes, as well as flavored cigars.
In a press release, the FDA said it’s committing to advancing the two tobacco product standards to significantly reduce disease and death from using combusted tobacco products, the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.
The FDA said it’s working to issue proposed product standards within the next year to ban menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and ban all characterizing flavors, including menthol, in cigars.
According to the regulatory agency, the decision to ban these products is based on science that shows how addictive and harmful they are to consumers.
The FDA said these actions build on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that was signed into law in 2009. Among other things, that legislation banned flavored cigarettes. However, menthol was not included in the banned flavors. The law instructed the FDA to further consider the issue of menthol in cigarettes.
“Banning menthol—the last allowable flavor—in cigarettes and banning all flavors in cigars will help save lives, particularly among those disproportionately affected by these deadly products. With these actions, the FDA will help significantly reduce youth initiation, increase the chances of smoking cessation among current smokers, and address health disparities experienced by communities of color, low-income populations, and LGBTQ+ individuals, all of whom are far more likely to use these tobacco products,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D.
If implemented, the FDA’s enforcement of any ban on menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars will only address manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers. The FDA says it can’t enforce against individual consumer possession or use of menthol cigarettes or any tobacco product.
For menthol smokers who would be affected by the ban, the FDA said it will work with its federal partners to make sure support is available for those who are trying to quit. Smokers interested in quitting today should visit smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to learn about cessation services available in their state.
The FDA’s next step will be to publish proposed rules in the Federal Register, allowing an opportunity for public comment.