On April 28, 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a proposed measure banning menthol cigarettes.
So, are menthol cigarettes banned or what? The short answer is no. Menthol cigarettes have not been banned, and there is currently no definitive date which they may be.
The FDA proposes a new policy effectively ending the sale of all flavored tobacco, including menthol cigarettes. According to the FDA website, approximately 18.5 million Americans ages 12 years and older enjoy menthol cigarettes as smokers. The FDA states, “menthol is a flavor additive with a minty taste and aroma that reduces the irritation and harshness of smoking. This increases appeal and makes menthol cigarettes easier to use, particularly for youth and young adults.”
The FDA website also states, “Characterizing flavors in cigars, such as strawberry, grape, cocoa and fruit punch, increase appeal and make cigars easier to use, particularly among youth and young adults. More than a half-million youth in the US use flavored cigars, and in recent years more young people tried a cigar every day than tried a cigarette.”
If finalized, the newly proposed menthol product standard will:
- Reduce the appeal of cigarettes, particularly to youth and young adults, decreasing the likelihood that nonusers who would otherwise experiment with menthol cigarettes would progress to regular smoking; and
- Improve the health and reduce the mortality risk of current menthol cigarette smokers by decreasing cigarette consumption and increasing the likelihood of cessation.
So what does this mean for the millions of adult smokers who enjoy menthol cigarettes? Well, it doesn’t mean anything quite yet, other than the idea to ban flavored tobacco has been introduced, and efforts are underway. In a disclosure, the FDA states, “Importantly, the FDA cannot and will not enforce against individual consumers for possession or use of menthol cigarettes or flavored cigars.” In other words, the FDA will target manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers, and retailers who manufacture, distribute, or sell such products within the US, not smokers themselves.
However, according to the FDA, “State and local law enforcement agencies do not independently enforce the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and do not, and cannot, take enforcement actions against any violation of FDA’s tobacco authorities, including its regulations, on the FDA’s behalf.”
But what does all this mean? The FDA has put forth a proposal to end the manufacturing and sale of flavored tobacco and will open public comment beginning May 4 through July 5, 2022. Concerned citizens are invited to submit their comments in writing or through email. The agency will also host listening sessions on June 13 and 15, 2022. After all of the comments have been reviewed and considered, the FDA will issue a final determination.
Read the complete proposal at: https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2022-09302.pdf
Contact the FDA at:
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
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