The FDA unveiled a plan on Thursday to prohibit the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes in the United States, a move praised by many public health experts as the government’s most significant action in more than a decade of tobacco control efforts.
According to the New York Times, menthol cigarettes account for over a third of the $80 billion US cigarette business, with around 18.5 million Americans smoking them.
Former FDA Associate Commissioner Peter Pitts told CNN on Sunday that removing these products from the market might take up to a year.
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Menthol cigarettes have been widely promoted to youthful smokers and communities of color, accounting for 85 percent of black smokers. And these are the cigarettes on which children first light up.
Pitts added that we must educate the public about the hazards of menthol cigarettes since “the health repercussions are significant.”
Menthol, a chemical derived from the mint plant that can also be made in a lab, is added to cigarettes to reduce the harshness of smoking by producing a cooling feeling in the throat and enhancing the experience.
Eliminating them “would help prevent youngsters from entering the next generation of smokes and assist adult smokers in quitting,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra stated.