FDA moves to ban menthol cigarettes

It's been a long time coming

Menthol cigarettes
The FDA has had banning methol cigarettes on the agenda for years
(Image credit: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took one of the final steps toward banning menthol-flavored cigarettes and flavored cigars, an issue it has grappled with for years. The agency sent the final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Oct. 13, which is still awaiting final review. The FDA proposed the rule in April 2022 but missed the self-imposed deadline to finalize it in August. “Finalizing these two product standards remains a top priority for the FDA,” Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told CNN. “The posting of both rules on the OMB website means they have reached the final step of review for regulatory documents.” 

Menthol-flavored tobacco products have long been a concern for the FDA, which argues that their existence promotes youth experimentation, especially among Black youth. “Many Black health groups and civil rights groups support a ban on menthol, with the products accounting for about 85% of those used by adult Black smokers,” Axios reported adding that “Black high school students are 1.5 times more likely than white high school students to smoke cigars,” per a report by Rutgers University. If implemented, the new rules will "protect kids from tobacco addiction, advance health equity and save hundreds of thousands of lives, especially Black lives," Yolonda Richardson, president and CEO of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told CNN.

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Devika Rao, The Week US

 Devika Rao has worked as a staff writer at The Week since 2022, covering science, the environment, climate and business. She previously worked as a policy associate for a nonprofit organization advocating for environmental action from a business perspective.