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.