Tag Archives: menthol

Menthol cigarettes finally banned

Menthol Cigarettes finally banned

First of all, with a new presidential administration in place with Joe Biden, big changes are happening with oversight toward the tobacco industry. The big thing that happened last week is menthol cigarettes were FINALLY banned by the Food and Drug Administration last week.

Also to be banned are surgary cigars like Swisher Sweets.

The ban isn’t immediate. It has to go through a lengthy comment period and should take effect in about a year.

This has been a point of controversy for many years. The FDA some time ago banned candy- or sugar-flavoured cigarettes, but punted on menthols. Even though technically, menthol is a sweet, candy-like flavouring.

The biggest reason the FDA kicked the can down the road is that candy-flavoured cigarettes, while clearly directed at getting teens to take up smoking, were never that big a part of the cigarette market.

Menthols, on the other hand, are a HUGE part of the tobacco market. In fact, Newport cigarettes, a menthol brand, was once upon a time Lorrilard’s biggest brand. According to this CNN article, menthols make up 33 percent of the tobacco market in the U.S.

Weirdly enough, Kool cigarettes, another menthol brand were once my parents’ favourite brand. What makes it weird is to be honest, they could be kind of racist, and menthol cigarettes were heavily marketed toward Black people.

From the CNN article:

“Despite the tremendous progress we’ve made in getting people to stop smoking over the past 55 years, that progress hasn’t been experienced by everyone equally,” said Mitch Zeller with the FDA’s Office of Tobacco. “In the United States, compared to non-Hispanic White smokers, significantly fewer Black smokers support long-term quitting and Black smokers are more likely to die of tobacco-related disease than White smokers.”

Mentholated brands of tobacco products have been heavily marketed to racial minorities resulting in disproportionate use. More than 85% of mentholated brand users are Black, nearly 47% are Hispanic, 38% are Asian, nearly 29% are White, according to the CDC.


Why or how menthols found a market among Blacks, I’m not sure. Here is a pretty good article examining the history of menthol cigarettes and Black smokers.

The ban does not include menthol ecigs for now, but I see that as another issue to be debated another day anyway. Menthol isn’t marketed to KIDS the way bubble-gum and cherry flavoured ecigs have been.

African-American doctors urge banning menthol cigarettes


For some reason, I’m not sure why, menthol cigarettes are favoured by black smokers (interestingly, my parents were big menthol smokers for years and they were decidedly not black)… and Big Tobacco has long marketed menthols to black smokers.

In fact, 75 percent of the smokers of the second biggest cigarette brand — Newport cigarettes — are black. Newports are mentholated. Man, here’s a shocking stat — 83 percent of older black smokers prefer mentholated brands, while 72 percent of young black smokers also prefer menthol cigs.

Newport trails only Marlboro as the most popular brand in the U.S. .. mostly because so many blacks smoke them. Newport was also the No. 1 brand for Lorillard, which is now part of RJ Reynolds.

Newport, a menthol cigarette, is the No. 1 brand among African-American smokers.

Interestingly, several years ago, the Food and Drug Administration banned candy-flavoured cigarettes, such as cherry, raspberry, etc., because these cigarettes were obviously being marketed to kids. However, the FDA did nothing about menthol cigarettes, which have a candhy-like minty flavour. Menthol cigarettes were grandfathered in.

A group called the African-American Tobacco Control Leadership Council last week called on Barack Obama to ban menthol cigarettes (not really sure if Obama could actually do this by Executive action).

One of the big problems with menthol is that it makes cigarette smoke less harsh and easier to ingest, thus making cigarette smoke that much more dangerous for the smoker.

Yeah, I don’t get the logic of banning candy cigarettes, but not a minty cigarette. It just shows that there is a too-cozy relationship at times between the FDA and Big Tobacco.

FDA panel suggests banning menthol

An advisory panel at the Food and Drug Administration gave its suggestion last week to the agency that menthol in cigarettes should be banned.


The FDA has been wrangling with the menthol issue for over a year. About a year ago, after being given regulatory control over tobacco products, the FDA immediately banned candy flavouring for tobacco, because it was believed this made tobacco more appealing to teens.

Menthol is a bit tougher nut to crack, because menthol cigarettes and menthol chew have been around for decades and represent roughly 30 percent of the tobacco market. Hell, it was all my dad smoked. It’s a flavouring, just like orange or strawberry, but it’s also a big part of the cigarette market and in fact one relatively large tobacco company — Lollilard — gets most of its profits from menthol cigarettes (Newport is a Lollilard brand). For some reason, a much higher percentage of blacks smoke menthols than whites, and a lot of menthol cigarette advertising is directed at black smokers. If menthol is banned, I could see it putting Lollilard out of business. They the third biggest company of the Big Three — Altria (Phillip Morris), RJ Reynolds being No.1 and No. 2 respectively.


Well, this panel came out and said it should be banned, because menthol, like candy-flavourings, has the effect of making cigarettes more appealing to teens and kids. Menthol itself does not increase the risk of lung cancer or other diseases caused by smoking. It just makes cigarettes more enticing to kids.

The FDA is supposed to make a final decision later this year.