FDA Announces Commitment to Prohibit Menthol Cigarettes and Flavored Cigars

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 29 announced that it is initiating rulemaking to prohibit menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, including menthol-flavored cigars, to reduce disease and death from using combustible tobacco products as well as address health disparities.

The FDA intends to issue proposed product standards banning menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and banning all characterizing flavors, including menthol, as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes "within the next year." Rulemaking will only address manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers. Individual consumer possession and usage will not be legally addressed, according to the agency.

"Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and a significant, modifiable risk factor for heart disease, which is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. This should give us ample reason to take every action available to reduce tobacco's impact on our society and public health. The American College of Cardiology is heartened to see the FDA's recent commitment to advance bans on menthol flavored cigarettes and all flavored cigars. The ACC has joined with stakeholders in recent years to call for this change as an imperative to public health," ACC President Dipti Itchhaporia, MD, FACC, said in a statement.

It is already known that flavored products are often targeted at and used by our youth population. It is why flavored e-cigarettes have already been banned and why we have raised the age to use tobacco products to 21. We all understand the stakes of tobacco products and addiction on our communities' health. Menthol cigarettes are well-known to increase youth initiation to smoking; they also increase addiction to nicotine and reduce success in smoking cessation. We also know that menthol cigarettes have an incredibly high toll in the disease and death in the Black community, worsening existing and unacceptable health disparities. The ACC, the public health community, the FDA and Congress must work together on this vital issue with clear public health benefits of reducing tobacco-related death and disease."

ACC Advocacy has long supported efforts to curb tobacco usage and protect heart health, both federally and on the state and local levels. In 2020, multiple ACC State Chapters were instrumental in the passage of local tobacco legislation.

Read the full FDA announcement here.

Clinical Topics: Dyslipidemia, Prevention, Lipid Metabolism, Smoking

Keywords: ACC Advocacy, Menthol, Tobacco, Tobacco Products, United States Food and Drug Administration, Tobacco Use, Smoking, Flavoring Agents, African Americans

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