Public health advocates have long applied for a menthol ban. When the landmark Tobacco Control Act passed in 2009, giving the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products, menthol was exempted from the tobacco flavors that would be banned.
The exception ranked public health groups and a cadre of former US health secretaries in the cabinet, who noted the 47,000 black lives lost each year due to smoking-related diseases. Allowing menthol cigarettes to remain on the market “hides the economic interests of tobacco companies and discriminates against African Americans,” the health secretaries wrote in a letter to the Senate as the Tobacco Control Act passed Congress.
The law left the matter in the hands of the FDA and its advisors, who took step by step. The agency’s advisers in 2011 said the removal of menthol cigarettes from the market would benefit public health, but stopped demanding a ban. Two years later, the FDA said that menthol made it easier to start smoking and harder to quit, and sought comments on “potential regulation.”
Half a decade passed before Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner at the time, announced that he intended to seek a ban on menthol cigarettes in 2018. He left the agency before reaching his goal. Last year, the agency said it would pursue the ban again, in addition to eliminating the flavors of the small, mass-produced cigars that are popular with blacks and Latinos.
The White House is showing recent meetings with supporters of a ban, including the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Public Law Health Center and others left officials with a review of Canada’s experience banning menthol cigarettes in 2017, which led to 59 percent of menthol smokers picking up tasteless cigarettes, 20 percent of menthol smokers quit and almost the same proportion continued to buy. them on native reservations, where they can still be sold.
Business groups including the Americans for Tax Reform and the Tax Foundation warned White House officials of losing federal and state tax dollars – as much as $ 6.6 billion in the first year of a menthol cigarette ban.
Although proponents of the ban say it is an important step toward reducing disease incidence in the United States, the move has to some extent divided black communities. Fox. Al Sharpton has sharply criticized it, and recently secured a meeting with White House officials along with King & Spalding, a lobbying firm with extensive experience in advocating for RAI Services Company, the cigarette manufacturer formerly known as RJ Reynolds.