The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to finalize a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, aiming to reduce the appeal of tobacco products and curb health disparities. The ban was initially expected to be completed by August 2023, but delays have raised concerns among public health advocates and communities disproportionately affected by tobacco marketing.
Menthol-flavored cigarettes have been a source of major concern due to their unique appeal and impact on certain communities. Studies have consistently shown that menthol makes cigarettes more addictive and encourages higher consumption, making them particularly enticing to new and young smokers.
Over half of children who smoke use menthol cigarettes, and tobacco companies have aggressively marketed menthol products in minority communities, further exacerbating health disparities. A 2020 study revealed that while 43% of all adult smokers opt for menthols, over 83% of Black smokers choose this flavor, highlighting the need for action to address systemic racism in tobacco marketing and its devastating health consequences.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids predicts that a nationwide ban could save up to 654,000 lives within four decades, with a third of those lives belonging to the Black community. However, the tobacco industry’s influence remains a significant obstacle, as companies are expected to challenge the ban through lawsuits.