The Biden administration intends to propose a ban on menthol cigarettes, which for many years have been aimed at protecting public health’s civil rights and anti-tobacco groups that have been beaten for years by the tobacco industry, says a federal health official.
For decades, menthol cigarettes have been aggressively sold to blacks in the United States. According to the Food and Drug Administration, about 85 percent of smokers use menthol brands, including Newport-Cool. Studies show that menthol cigarettes are more addictive and harder to quit than regular tobacco products.
The FDA has to act within the time limit set by the court. A Northern California federal judge has instructed the agency to respond to citizens’ petitions for a menthol ban by April 29. However, the possibility that the ban will come into force soon is unlikely, as any proposal is likely to end in a long legal battle. The proposal also calls for a ban on mass-produced spicy cigars, including cigarillos, which have become popular among teenagers.
The ban, however, will not apply to e-cigarettes, which are considered a way to help regular menthol smokers. Most e-cigarette brands, including Juul, are being reviewed by the FDA to see if they are good enough for public health to stay in the market.
The details of the offer were first reported by The Washington Post.
One of the organizations behind the petition, Delmonte fferson, executive director of the Health and Justice Center, called the decision a victory for African-Americans of all colors.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Mr. Jefferson. “We have been fighting this fight since the 1980s. “We told the industry at the time that we did not want those cigarettes in our communities.”
Altria spokesman Steven Callahan, who owns Philip Morris in the United States, said the company was still opposed to the menthol ban.
“We share the common goal of moving adult smokers to potentially less harmful alternatives to tobacco, but the ban does not work.” Mr. Calalan said. “A much better approach is to support the creation of an FDA-authorized non-combustible alternatives market that is attractive to adult smokers.”
Three years ago, the FDA, led by President Trump’s first FDA commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, proposed a ban on such menthol. But the Trump administration backed down after fierce opposition from lawmakers in the state of Tobacco, led by Republican Sen. Richard Bury of North Carolina.
Pressure to revive the ban dates back to the election of President Biden, as the coronavirus epidemic and the Black Lives are Inappropriate movement exposed the racial discrepancies between the country’s racial health and medical systems.
Although black smokers smoke less, they die of heart attacks, strokes and other causes of tobacco use at a higher rate than white smokers, according to federal health statistics.
Matthew L. Myers, chairman of the ob obsidian without children campaign, which was part of the citizens’ petition, said that menthol and other flavors are widely used by teenagers.
“Menthol cigarettes are the number one cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating the menthol-spiced cigar used by so many children will, in the long run, do more to reduce tobacco-related illnesses than has ever been taken by the federal government.”
Menthol is a substance found in mint plants, it can be synthesized in the laboratory. It creates a feeling of coolness in the tobacco product, disguises the hardness of the smoke, making it more tolerable. Decades ago, marketing research showed that it was more attractive to black smokers than white smokers, and tobacco companies began marketing themselves to black consumers.
There is also growing support in Congress for a ban on legislation. Several states and communities, including Massachusetts and California, have imposed their own menthol bans, but many of them are related to litigation.
The FDA has not yet announced the details of the proposal, which will have to go through a federal rule-making process that could take several years, “most likely facing severe challenges for the tobacco industry.”