FDA might ban menthol cigarettes. It's about time, especially for Black America.

FDA might ban menthol cigarettes. It's about time, especially for Black America.

In 2009, Congress took the important step of banning flavored cigarettes that enticed youth to start smoking. However, that landmark legislation contained a significant flaw: a loophole that allowed tobacco companies to continue selling menthol cigarettes.

For decades, tobacco companies have relied heavily on menthol flavoring — a chemical additive found in nature that can also be created in a laboratory — because menthol makes it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. When added to cigarettes, menthol produces a cooling effect that masks the harshness of cigarette smoke and allows the user to inhale more deeply at the same time that it can enhance the effects of nicotine, the addictive element in cigarettes. 

For too long, Black people in America have been on the receiving end of the tobacco companies’ tactics that put their sales ahead of people’s health.

The Food and Drug Administration is finally considering action to close this loophole for good, proposing rules earlier this year to end the sale of menthol cigarettes as well as all flavored cigars. The public comment period, during which the agency solicits feedback to inform potential implementation of the proposed rules, ends Tuesday. It is crucial that we speak out about ending menthol sales now — particularly because of the many Black lives that are at stake.

No doubt thanks to predatory marketing tactics over the past four generations — including billboards, point-of-sale promotions, corporate sponsorships, coupons and free samples concentrated in Black communities — approximately 85% of Black people who smoke use menthols. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/fda-ban-menthol-cigarettes-time-especially-black-america-rcna40982


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Updated: 1 week ago
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