F.D.A. Moves to Ban Sales of Menthol Cigarettes

Christina Jewett

This article by Christina Jewett appeared in The New York Times on April 28, 2022.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday announced a plan to ban sales of menthol-flavored cigarettes in the United States, a measure many public health experts hailed as the government’s most meaningful action in more than a decade of tobacco control efforts.

The ban would most likely have the deepest impact on Black smokers, nearly 85 percent of whom use menthol cigarettes, compared with 29 percent of white smokers, according to a government survey. If effective in reducing smoking, the ban could significantly diminish the burden of chronic disease and limit the number of lives cut short by one of the most hazardous legal products available.

Menthol cigarettes make up about one third of the $80 billion U.S. cigarette market, and about 18.5 million Americans smoke them. Banning the flavor “would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” Xavier Becerra, the health and human services secretary, said, adding that it would significantly reduce tobacco-related deaths among Black people.

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