The Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday it would seek to ban menthol cigarettes nationwide by setting the tobacco industry to a very well-known point: it has to defend the smoke that is popular among smokers and African Americans.
Mint flavored cigarettes account for nearly one-third of the approximately 250 billion cigarettes sold annually in the United States. Industry has a long marketing history in black and minority neighborhoods. More than twelve municipalities have adopted bans on mendoles, but cigarette manufacturers have so far avoided federal restrictions.
In a broad depression aimed at limiting the use of flavored tobacco products to teenagers, the FDA has stated that it is working on a rule to ban cigarettes and cigars with menthol. It could take one or more years to finalize the rule and another year to be enforceable in the market. The organization also placed restrictions on the sale of fragranced electronic cigarettes, effective within 90 days, and said it would soon invite tobacco companies to pull off some fragranced cigars from the market. She is working on a separate rule for a total ban on flavored cigars.
Any proposal to ban menthol cigarettes will be "subject to judicial control," said a spokesman for Reynolds American Inc., raising the possibility of legal battle. Reynolds is the top brand of Newport Mintool. "We believe that evidence suggests that menthol does not encourage people to smoke, making smoking more difficult to stop or increase health risks than non-menthol cigarettes," he said.
British American Tobacco
PLC is at stake. It made about $ 50 billion three years ago to take full control of Reynolds American and menthols in 2016 accounted for half of Reynolds' revenue of $ 12.5 billion.
sells Marlboros and Menthol flavored
PLC sells the Kool and Salem brands, but these companies are not so dependent on the mints for total sales. Altria and Imperial refused to comment before the FDA announced.
A report from the FDA says that removing cigarettes from the market would benefit public health. Cigarettes have been sold to the African-American market for years. (Originally published on January 4, 2011)
Menthol, a compound naturally found in mint plants, has been added to cigarettes since the 1920s. It provides a sense of cooling in the mouth and throat, similar to that of a powder film. According to health officials, the result facilitates the irritation of the throat caused by cigarette smoke, making the mintolians more attractive to young people.
The FDA concluded in 2013 that mintholes are more difficult to stop and are likely to pose a greater health risk than regular cigarettes. But it was not until last year that the FDA noted that it actively thought about banning menthol and other flavored tobacco products.
"Why only mint?" Said Jeff Washington, a 52-year-old New York who started smoking Newport when he joined the army in 1983. If binds were banned, he said, "I'll start smoking Marlboros."
Turning to the courts is a tactic that has worked for the tobacco industry before. Several companies in 2011 have successfully acted to prevent the FDA from imposing large graphics warning labels on cigarette packs, arguing that it was a violation of their first modification rights. Such package alerts exist in many countries.
Reynolds spent $ 11.7 million to face a ban on menthol that was adopted last year in San Francisco and confirmed in June in a vote. It also funded black community leaders who spoke against municipal bans on menthol, including revolutions. Al Sharpton, who claimed to create an illegal market that would lead to racial profiling by the black police.
Over the decades, minorities turned to menthol chips, such as Newport, Kool and Salem, as the tobacco companies organized advertising magazines and billboards depicting helpless black smokers. Companies also encouraged the widespread conviction that the mandolos were soothing and had a medicinal effect.
Advertising Archive / Everett Collection
In the US, 81% of black smokers and 46% of Hispanic smokers used mints in 2017, compared with 29% of white smokers, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis from National Health and Consumer Survey of the drugs. About 45% of children 12 to 17 years of age who smoke say they smoke mintol, according to figures. For black teens, this percentage is 52%.
"Menthol serves to cover some of the attractive smoking characteristics that could otherwise discourage the child from smoking," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, adding that menthol products exacerbate worrying health inequalities with race and socio-economic status.
As a step towards a possible ban, the FDA called for public comments in March on the role of menthol and other flavors in tobacco products. British American, Altria and other tobacco companies have shown their stances in submissions to the organization.
The FDA's 2013 findings on menthol "suffered from fundamental scientific weaknesses," Altria said in July's submission, adding that a ban on blanks would probably create a significant illegal market.
"Banning cigarettes with menthol would give the police another way to interact negatively with black communities," colleague Sharpton writes in an interview he wrote in May 2017. "Banning, banning or restricting menthol cigarettes would mean punitive concequenses . "
Mr Sharpton did not respond to a request for comment.
NAACP and the National City Club this week said they would support a federal ban on currencies. The FDA's plan "has been delayed to protect the health of African Americans and reduce the harmful effects of smoking with menthol and tobacco use overall on American health," said Marjorie Innocent, NAACP's senior health manager, on Wednesday.
The tobacco industry in the 1990s fought the prospect of federal regulation, but in 2000 Philip Morris Cos., Now known as Altria, favored federal oversight. He participated in the negotiations on legislation passed in 2009, giving the FDA the regulatory control of tobacco products. The law banned candy, fruit and spice flavorings in cigarettes because of their possible appeal to children, but left the issue of menthol unclear.
The law of 2009 stated that the organization could only prohibit mentalities if it could prove that the ban was a net benefit to public health, taking into account possible unintended consequences, such as an illegal market. The organization has since been working to overcome this obstacle.
"Why do you just sort out a kind of cigarette?" Said Brohelyn's 46-year-old Rasheem Chisholm, who is trying to break the 20-year-old Newport habit. "It's not good, it can also ban everything."
Write to Jennifer Maloney at [email protected] and Tom McGinty at [email protected]