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FDA proposes menthol cigarette ban

The US Food and Drug Administration proposed a potential ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, but the litigious action against high health risk products could take years to implement.

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday proposed banning the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, citing the “potential to significantly reduce disease and death from combusted tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable death in the US, by reducing youth experimentation and addiction.”

The proposal, which comes a year after the agency announced the plan, could still take years to implement as it is likely to face stiff opposition from the tobacco industry.

“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.” 

According to the FDA, these proposed product standards are based on clear science and evidence establishing the addictiveness and harm of these products and build on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which prohibited all characterizing flavors (other than tobacco and menthol) in cigarettes in 2009. They are also a critical piece of the Administration’s reignited Cancer Moonshot to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years; tobacco use is a leading cause of cancer and death from cancer, and approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States are caused by smoking.

“The authority to adopt tobacco product standards is one of the most powerful tools Congress gave the FDA and the actions we are proposing can help significantly reduce youth initiation and increase the chances that current smokers quit. It is clear that these efforts will help save lives,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. “Through the rulemaking process, there’s an important opportunity for the public to make their voices heard and help shape the FDA’s ongoing efforts to improve public health.” 

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