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Not Kool: FDA seeks to ban menthol cigarettes

Cigarette Smoking
In this Saturday, March 2, 2013 photo, a woman smokes a cigarette while sitting in her truck in Hayneville, Ala.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration plans to issue a report Thursday calling for a ban on menthol flavored cigarettes as well as cigars with “characterizing flavors.”

“Banning menthol… in cigarettes and banning all flavors in cigars will help save lives, particularly among those disproportionately affected by these deadly products,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

The policy plan is the culmination of a study undertaken by the FDA in April of 2021 which looked at the effects of menthol cigarettes on smokers.

The FDA estimates there are currently 18.6 million smokers of menthol cigarettes in the U.S. and the ban could lead to nearly a million people a year quitting.

Minorities make up the largest share of consumers with nearly 85% of Black smokers smoking menthol cigarettes compared to 30% for white smokers.

Among youth, menthol cigarette and flavored cigar consumption dropped for White high school students but there was no decline among Black and Hispanic students.

Currently, the Centers For Disease Control estimates there are over 30 million smokers in the U.S with Blacks and Whites making up 14% and 13% of the total.

A study from The American Journal of Public Health states the ban could save over 600,000 lives by 2050.