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Explained: Why US FDA wants to ban menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars?

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Google Oneindia News

Effort to 'help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers' also increase the chances that current smokers quit.

Washington, May 06: The US Food and Drug Administration is proposing a ban on menthol cigarettes and all cigar flavorings, except for tobacco flavor. The agency says the proposal has the potential to significantly reduce disease and death from combusted tobacco product use, the leading cause of preventable death in the US, by reducing youth experimentation and addiction, and increasing the number of smokers that quit.

 Explained: Why US FDA wants to ban menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars?

"The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit," said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. "Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities."

These proposed product standards are based on clear science and evidence establishing the addictiveness and harm of these products and build on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which prohibited all characterizing flavors (other than tobacco and menthol) in cigarettes in 2009.

They are also a critical piece of the Administration's reignited Cancer Moonshot to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years; tobacco use is a leading cause of cancer and death from cancer, and approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States are caused by smoking.

"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 FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. "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."

Menthol product standard would have significant public health impact

Menthol is a flavor additive with a minty taste and aroma that reduces the irritation and harshness of smoking. This increases appeal and makes menthol cigarettes easier to use, particularly for youth and young adults. Menthol also interacts with nicotine in the brain to enhance nicotine's addictive effects. The combination of menthol's flavor, sensory effects and interaction with nicotine in the brain increases the likelihood that youth who start using menthol cigarettes will progress to regular use. Menthol also makes it more difficult for people to quit smoking.

Why the ban?

In 2019, there were more than 18.5 million current menthol cigarette smokers ages 12 and older in the U.S., with particularly high rates of use by youth, young adults, and African American and other racial and ethnic groups. Published modeling studies have estimated a 15 percent reduction in smoking within 40 years if menthol cigarettes were no longer available in the United States.

These studies also estimate that 324,000 to 654,000 smoking attributable deaths overall (92,000 to 238,000 among African Americans) would be avoided over the course of 40 years.

When finalized, the proposed menthol product standard will:

  • reduce the appeal of cigarettes, particularly to youth and young adults, decreasing the likelihood that
  • nonusers who would otherwise experiment with menthol cigarettes would progress to regular smoking; and
  • improve the health and reduce the mortality risk of current menthol cigarette smokers by decreasing
  • cigarette consumption and increasing the likelihood of cessation.
  • Flavored cigar product standard would reduce youth risk

Characterizing flavors in cigars, such as strawberry, grape, cocoa and fruit punch, increase appeal and make cigars easier to use, particularly among youth and young adults. More than a half million youth in the U.S. use flavored cigars, and in recent years more young people tried a cigar every day than tried a cigarette.

When finalized, this product standard will:

reduce the appeal of cigars, particularly to youth and young adults, and decrease the likelihood of experimentation, development of nicotine dependence, and progression to regular use; and
improve public health by increasing the likelihood that existing cigar smokers may quit.

If these proposed rules are finalized and implemented, FDA enforcement will only address manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers who manufacture, distribute, or sell such products within the U.S. that are not in compliance with applicable requirements. These proposed regulations do not include a prohibition on individual consumer possession or use.

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