FDA Seeks Ban on Menthol Cigarettes
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed new rules that would prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes in the United States. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said that the new rules, which would also include a ban on flavored cigars, “would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit.” “Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities,” Becerra said in a statement. The move was made possible back in 2009, when Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that was then signed into law by President Barack Obama. The statute empowered the FDA to regulate tobacco products, and the regulatory body responded by imposing on a ban on virtually all flavored cigarettes. But menthol cigarettes were exempted in that ban, due in part to opposition from the Congressional Black Caucus at the time. As The New York Times reported Thursday, the proposed ban “would most likely have the deepest impact on Black smokers, nearly 85% of whom use menthol cigarettes, compared with 29% of white smokers.” According to The Washington Post, “many members [of the Congressional Black Caucus] now support a ban” on menthol cigarettes. “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 Robert M. Califf, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. “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.” The FDA said that, as…
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