Xavier Becerra, the new U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) secretary, issued the following statement in regards tot he FDA’s latest proposal:
“Today the Food and Drug Administration announced the launch of proposed rule-making to remove menthol from cigarettes and flavor additives from cigars. This science-based decision reflects the Biden Administration’s commitment to improve the health of all Americans and to tackle health disparities in our most marginalized communities. Tobacco-related death and disease must become a part of America’s past. These public health measures will save lives.
“Banning menthol in cigarettes and flavors in cigars will decrease the appeal of these tobacco products and strengthen health equity. Together, these actions represent powerful, science-based approaches that over time will help end the cycle of children becoming the next generation of smokers and eliminate long-perpetuated health disparities.
“We also recognize it is critical to ensure that routine smokers who seek to quit have broad and equitable access to all of the tools and resources they may need to succeed. I will continue to work closely with agencies within the Department of Health and Human Service on this important issue.”
If passed, the FDA states that its enforcement of a ban on menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars would “only address manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers.” The FDA will not enforce against individual consumers in possession of menthol cigarettes or flavored cigars, though by focusing on the source of the products, consumers would not legally have access to these products. The FDA making sure these tobacco products would not be on the market could lead to a black market for these products and will lead to a lack of choice among consumers that purchase and use these products. For now, the menthol ban does not appear to impact electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or products.
Banning menthol and flavored cigar products is a regulatory process that will take time. Some estimate that menthol cigarettes will be available for at least two more years, though some action could be made within the year by the FDA to ensure the ban is carried out. The FDA will create new product standards that are expected to be published and released within the next year.
You can read the FDA’s full press release regarding the menthol and flavored cigar ban by clicking here.
For all the latest legislation and FDA news impacting the tobacco industry, click here.