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2022-04-29|

FDA Plans to Prohibit Menthol Cigarettes and Flavored Cigars to Decrease Youth Smokers

by Aurora Mau
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With tobacco use being the leading cause of cancer and death from cancer, smoking is responsible for approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths in America. The U.S. FDA has proposed to prohibit menthol-added cigarettes and all flavored cigars, in order to reduce the risk of tobacco-related disease and death. 

Previous scientific research demonstrating the addictiveness and harmful effects caused by tobacco products, along with the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act from 2009 were the key factors to this proposal. Additionally, the goal of reducing the cancer death rate by at least 50 percent in the next 25 years from the FDA’s reignited Cancer Moonshot also contributed to the decision.

“The proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities,” said Xavier Becerra, the secretary of Health and Human Services.

 

Menthol and Flavored Cigarette’s Link To Addiction

 

Menthol, a food additive, is commonly used to add mint flavor to certain food. However, it would also decrease the irritation and harshness of smoking when added to tobacco products, causing an increase in youth smokers use. The menthol would also interact with the nicotine in the brain to enhance its addictiveness, leading to the increasing frequency of smoking menthol cigarettes. According to the FDA’s statement, there are over 18.5 million menthol cigarette smokers ages 12 and/or older in the U.S in 2019.

With multiple flavors available in cigars choice, the youth generation is also appealed to the use of flavored cigars. Thus, to reduce the appeal of tobacco products to the youth generation, and to improve the health of the general public, the FDA decided to include them in the prohibition proposal with the hope of encouraging more existing cigar smokers to quit.

However, the FDA regulation would not be able to prohibit individuals from possession of menthol-added cigarettes and flavored cigars, thus addressing the manufacturers, distributors and retailers might be the only way to address this problem. The FDA is currently working on how the regulation can be conducted in every state and is open for comment on how to address it with local law enforcement. 

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