The Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday that it will begin the process of banning menthol flavored cigarettes and all flavored cigars, stopping short of including menthol flavored e-cigarettes.
The agency says the move will improve the health of two groups — children and Black Americans — those most likely to smoke menthol cigarettes.
Menthol is used in tobacco products to create a cooling sensation in the throat, making it easier to inhale the smoke and nicotine.
“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,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement.
A long regulatory process is expected to transition the market away from menthol products, and it is expected the cigarettes will remain on the market for at least another two years.
The vast majority of Black smokers — 85 percent — use menthol cigarettes. They are more likely than white Americans to be diagnosed with lung cancer at more advanced stages, when the disease is more difficult to treat. Black men have the highest lung cancer death rate in the country.
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