(ABC4) – The U.S Food and Drug Administration announced a proposal to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars to prevent youth addiction and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death.

“The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities.” 

In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act set a ban on all characterizing flavors in cigarettes other than tobacco and menthol.

Tobacco use is a leading preventable cause of cancer and death from cancer. 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States are caused by smoking.

2019 saw over 18.5 million menthol cigarette smokers who were age 12 and older in the U.S.

Currently, youth can buy cigars in characterizing flavors, such as strawberry, grape, cocoa, and fruit punch. This has greatly increased the appeal of smoking in youth and young adults. If the ban were to be approved, the FDA hopes that it will:

  • Reduce the appeal of cigars, particularly to youth and young adults, and decrease the likelihood of experimentation, development of nicotine dependence, and progression to regular use 
  • Improve public health by increasing the likelihood that existing cigar smokers may quit. 

Importantly, the FDA cannot and will not enforce against individual consumers for possession or use of menthol cigarettes or flavored cigars.

If these proposed rules are finalized and implemented, FDA enforcement will only address manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers, and retailers who manufacture, distribute, or sell such products within the U.S.

Beginning May 4, 2022, the public will have the opportunity to submit either electronic or written comments about these proposed rules through July 5, 2022. Once the comments have been reviewed and considered, the FDA will decide whether to issue this ban.