In a landmark move to move the tobacco industry, the Food and Drug Administration plans to propose a ban on menthol cigarettes next week as part of its aggressive campaign against flavored e-cigarettes and some tobacco products, officials said.
The proposal must go through the FDA legal labyrinth, and it may be several years before such a restriction came into force, especially if the major tobacco companies contest the agency's authority to do so. None of the big tobacco companies will comment on the possibility of blocking menthol cigarettes at this early stage.
But such a move has long been awaited by public health professionals, who have been particularly concerned with the high percentage of African Americans who become addicted to menthol cigarettes.
Canada has already imposed a ban on menthol cigarettes and the EU ban will come into force in 2020. Earlier this year, San Francisco passed a ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes.
menthol proposal is just one of several measures the FDA plans to announce sometime next week, including a ban on the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, excluding menthol and mint, in stores and gas stations across the country. The products containing such flavors as chicken and waffles and mango will be mainly referred to online sales, in places where the agency hopes to impose strict age verification to ensure that minors can not buy them.
As e-cigarettes, a thriving business and extremely popular with teens and adolescents, healthcare professionals, parents and others became concerned about the high usage of nicotine-related products that were considered as alternatives to traditional smoking for adults.
The FDA began targeting the major manufacturers of e-cigarettes, especially with focus on Juul Labs, the manufacturer of a popular flashy product that has become almost ubiquitous in schools and streets.
Just one day after officials began issuing details about next week's plan to ban some sales, Juul Labs indicated on Friday that it had decided to withdraw more of its wildly popular flavored e-cigarette pillows from shop shelves, according to several people who were informed by the company.
The Vaping giant will continue to sell its liquid nicotine buns in mint, menthol and tobacco flavors in bricks, but will limit other tastes that could appeal to younger people for sale online.
Juul Labs launched the device similar to a flash drive, by 2015, and now has about 77 percent of the US e-cigarette market.
Last year, a competitor, Altria, said it would stop most flavored e-cigarettes and support federal laws
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat in New York, had been advocating such restrictions.
"While more must be achieved to fully regulate e-cigger as real cigarettes, Juul's efforts are a good step in chewing out child-friendly flavors that have led to spiking nicotine addiction among American youth, and can make a difference," said Mr
Lisa David, President and CEO of Public Health Solutions, a New York-based nonprofit group specializing in health problems for low-income and immigrant families, said she was unable to hold mint and menthol -smakes easily available in stores, especially given the gateway effect for young people who start weapons and then move to traditional cigarettes.
"Menthol makes it seem less hard and also allows the body to absorb more nicotine," she said. "That means that it's easier to start smoking and harder to quit. "
Ms. David also wondered if Juul's limitation may be too late because of the many similar entities called" Juul-ali kes ", already on the market.
"Juul obviously was a contributor to the really big uptake of young people using e-cigarettes," said Mrs. "At this point there is a bunch of other versions of Juul-alikes. They have similar shapes and flavors and appeal to the same audience."
The fight against menthol cigarettes has continued for decades.
According to the NAACP Youth Against Menthol campaign, about 85 percent of African-American smokers aged 12 years and up with menthol cigarettes, compared to 29 percent of white smokers, the organization calls for a decade of culturally tailored tobacco improvement.
The most popular mentol mark in the United States is Newport, which is the second largest sales force of the cigarette brand in the industry, according to RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. Imperial Brands has two strong sellers, Kool and Salem. Altrias best selling cigarette, Marlboro, is also available in menthol, as it is R.J.'s camel.
A spokesman for R. J. Reynolds refused to comment. Altria and Imperial Brands could not be reached immediately.
In a joint statement on Friday, the campaign for tobacco-free children, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association and several other health groups said that action on menthol cigarettes was long delayed.
"There is overwhelming scientific evidence that menthol cigarettes have had a deep negative effect on public health in the United States, resulting in more death and disease," said the organizations.
Although federal health professionals released New Reports this week indicating that traditional smoking had reached record record since 1965, smoke-related deaths are still around 480,000 in the United States each year.