Rumors had been floating around that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was planning to ban menthol cigarettes. The rumors have now been confirmed.
In other words, menthol cigarettes will no longer be on sale.
It's not just the sale of this product that has been put to a stop, but the manufacturing and the importation as well. Menthol was the last flavor allowed in cigarettes, and it's now a thing of the past, along with all types of flavored cigars.
The move is an attempt to lower smoking rates, particularly among young people.
Possession Of Menthol Cigarettes And Flavored Cigars Still Allowed
Yes, the law says you cannot buy or sell menthol cigarettes. However, if you are already in possession of some, that's not a problem.
The media has explained this reality to the public recently.
Of course, with no one allowed to buy, sell or manufacture them, possession will pretty much take care of itself.
They're Trying To Save Lives
Smoking-related deaths are shockingly high, and it's quite embarrassing that this practice was allowed to go on for all those decades despite glaring evidence that smoking was killing so many people. The CDC says that about 480,000 people die every year due to smoking.
The CDC also noted that many people realized that many smokers were introduced to smoking through mentholated cigarettes.
Therefore, banning menthol cigarettes could be needed to ensure such people can live longer and healthier lives.
According to Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the FDA, this move is intended to have an "extraordinary public health impact" since it is backed by solid research.
She believes the actions will set America on a path towards stopping tobacco-related disease and death. Due to this move, the FDA estimates that the ban will have saved about 633,000 lives by 2050.
Black Smokers Favor Menthol Cigarettes The Most
The FDA argues that menthol cigarettes make getting addicted to smoking easier and that the process of quitting them is a lot harder. The agency also notes that blacks tend to suffer higher death rates due to smoking.
Coincidentally, marketers often target this demographic with aggressive marketing that has been going on for close to 70 years.
As a result, a staggering 85% of black smokers use Newports, Kools and other kinds of mentholated nicotine products.
There's Still A Long Process Ahead
Obviously, the fact that the FDA has made this move is commendable. Citizens need protection from the dangers of smoking, which claim so many of their lives on a daily basis.
The problem of mentholated cigarettes particularly affects African-Americans.
Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, the managing attorney for Action on Smoking and Health, took note of this fact. She works for an organization that spearheaded the ban on this cigarette flavor.
In fact, last year, Action on Smoking and Health sued the government for failing to act against menthol-flavored cigarettes.
As Expected, The Tobacco Industry Is Not Thrilled
Obviously, this ban will affect a multi-billion dollar industry. So Big Tobacco sees it as a humiliation and a hindrance to their business.
After all, a few hundred thousand people dying is nothing compared to the incredible sums of money that stand to be made from selling these products. That much is apparent from the aggressiveness with which the industry has defended its business despite mounting scientific evidence against the use of tobacco-related products.
The industry is obviously arguing against the ban.
Kaelan Hollon, a spokeswoman for the company that makes Newports, R.J. Reynolds, stated that published science does not back the idea of regulating menthol cigarettes differently from nonmenthol cigarettes:
"The scientific evidence neither shows a difference in health risks between a menthol and a nonmenthol cigarette nor does it support that menthol cigarettes adversely affect initiation, dependence or cessation."
Unfortunately for the tobacco companies, the ban will still come into force. As complicated as it is, there is no stopping this move.