The FDA has announced plans to implement a ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes within the United States. This decision has come after approximately 12 years of deliberation by the administration.
There will be a 60-day period made available for public comment on the published draft. This period will commence on May 4 and end on July 5. Thereafter, it is likely the ban could come into effect within the following few years, should there be no significant delays to the process. Some say the ban would most likely begin in 2026.
It is highly unlikely this process will be free of turbulence courtesy of opposition from big tobacco.
This ban will not only affect menthol cigarettes, but the draft makes mention of all flavored mass-produced cigars as well. As with most of the FDA tobacco-related bans, underage smoking has been cited as the reasoning for the ban.
“The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” said Xavier Becerra. Becerra is the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Issues with a Menthol Cigarette Ban
An issue with this decision is the current indecision regarding flavored vapes, particularly including menthol vapes. With an absence of menthol cigarettes on the market, current and future menthol cigarette smokers may need to find an alternative in regular cigarettes.
Considering the current share menthol cigarette’s possess in the US, up to 18.5 million smokers may be effected.
Menthol cigarette bans have already been a reality in a number of states. These include Massachusetts and California. The bill for California passed in 2020, but has not yet come into law as a result of opposition from tobacco companies. If one state faced such stiff resistance, it is incredibly likely this FDA ban will go unhitched.
What Does this Mean for Menthol Vapes?
Typically big tobacco and vape advocates find themselves at odds, but this decision finds both on the same side. “We believe harm reduction, not prohibition, is the better path forward,” said a statement from Altria – one of the largest big tobacco companies in the world. This is a sentiment that has been echoed by the vaping community for years.
This begs the question why the FDA is willing to miss an excellent opportunity to promote the tobacco harm reduction (THR) capabilities of, in this case, menthol vapes.
Lack of common knowledge is a huge issue regarding THR options. The vast majority of the public are unaware just how less harmful vapes are due to a combination of anti-vape news views and misinformation. Again, this is when the FDA could have touted the findings that vaping is up to 95% less harmful than traditional and menthol cigarettes.
The FDA appears to have missed a significant opportunity to promote true THR with their decision to ban menthol cigarettes. Not only has their decision come off poorly with THR and vape enthusiasts, but even big tobacco. It is more than likely this decision will face stern opposition from big tobacco as menthol cigarettes play a huge role in the current market in the US.