The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has moved in a major blow to the tobacco industry to ban the sale of mint-flavored cigarettes.
Public health and civil rights groups have pushed hard in favor of the ban, saying peppermint cigarettes are disproportionately harmful to African-Americans.
However, critics worry that the ban could lead to secret sales and more confrontations with law enforcement.
The proposed ban would affect more than a third of U.S. cigarette purchases.
However, the final decision will take months or even years to implement.
Thursday’s U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s notice sets an agency deadline to respond to a federal lawsuit that public health groups are seeking to ban.
Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, cited several studies on menthol’s adverse effects, saying that a ban on tastes could “help save lives” and “address the health differences experienced by communities of color, low-income people, and LGBT people who are more likely to use these tobacco products.”
Federal agencies also announced in their ruling a ban on all flavored cigarettes. Mint-flavored e-cigarettes do not involve.
When will the ban come into force?
The mint cigarette ban does not require congressional approval, but it won’t happen immediately and could take years.
The FDA ruling, which now goes into a lengthy legislative process, will include a period of public comment.
Any final bylaws could face a number of legal challenges from tobacco companies.
Anti-tobacco groups say the ban has long since rolled back, but the fight against tobacco-flavored products has begun.
In 2009, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave regulatory authority to tobacco products, Congress banned all cigarette flavors except menthol.
The agency issued a report in 2013 showing for the first time that peppermint-flavored cigarettes can pose a significant public health risk because they mask nicotine strolls and stimulate the throat.
This suggests that people may be more likely to enjoy this type of cigarette and find it harder to quit smoking than non-Sever ones.
Neither Mr. Obama nor the Trump administration has taken action on the product in the wake of strong opposition from the tobacco lobby.
Who supports the ban?
American tobacco use has declined dramatically over the years, but the proportion of smokers using mint smoke has increased, especially among black communities and young people.
African Americans tend to smoke less and are older than white smokers are, but die at much higher rates of tobacco-related diseases such as cancer and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition, public health and civil rights groups say mint producers are particularly aggressive in targeting low-income urban youth, increasing adoption rates through culturally personalized advertising, sponsoring local events, and even free shows at community meetings.
Proponents of Menthol’s ban condemned the practice in a recent letter to the Biden administration, writing, “The sale of peppermint cigarette predators and other flavored tobacco products must stop, and we all need to recognize that this is a social justice problem.”
Who opposes the ban?
Opponents of the ban, including black leaders like El Sharpton, say the ban on the most popular product among African Americans is discriminatory.
They warn that criminalizing these products could lead to an underground business network and lead uncomfortable interactions between law enforcement.
As evidence, they point to the 2014 arrest of unarmed black Eric Garner on suspicion of illegally selling “theft” or a pack of cigarettes.
The case study helped defeat New York City’s Menthol ban in 2019.
However, the Biden administration says closing the racial health gap exposed by the epidemic is a political priority.
Black legislators and health groups largely supported the ban as part of a broader goal.