The Meals and Drug Administration is poised to crack down on tobacco merchandise, beginning with a possible ban on menthol cigarettes subsequent week.
The FDA’s coverage determination on menthol cigarettes is a mandatory response to a June 2020 lawsuit introduced by the African American Tobacco Management Management Council, which argued that the FDA has uncared for to manage menthol cigarettes in the identical method it does nonflavored cigarettes since 2009. The general public well being group compelled the company to reply to a residents’ petition calling for the product’s removing from the market. It stays unclear whether or not it’s going to lead to a complete ban on menthol cigarettes.
“The FDA has the authority and the proof base to ban menthol cigarettes and sharply cut back nicotine ranges in all cigarettes,” Richard Besser, president of the Robert Wooden Johnson Basis, wrote Friday. “Allow us to hope that days from now, it additionally finds the need to take action.”
Menthol cigarette gross sales have remained fixed lately regardless of a downward pattern in nonmenthol cigarette gross sales, federal data shows. Menthol cigarettes additionally make up a smaller share of the market, with roughly 40% of all people who smoke selecting menthol over nonflavored cigarettes. Of that 40%, practically 49% have been younger adults ages 18 to 25, and about 85% have been black, according to a report from public well being consultants on the Rutgers College Middle for Tobacco Research.
Civil rights teams such because the NAACP and the Middle for Black Well being and Fairness have tried for years to persuade the FDA to problem a ban on menthol cigarettes on the grounds that the trade makes use of “predatory” advertising and marketing techniques to hook extra black Individuals. Mother or father teams have additionally urged the federal authorities to ban all flavored tobacco merchandise, not simply menthol cigarettes, which attraction to kids.
“Tobacco firms have … marketed these merchandise aggressively to keep up an everyday buyer base, hidden the well being risks and reaped the earnings,” Besser mentioned. “Menthol cigarettes are maybe essentially the most insidious instance of this enterprise mannequin in motion.”
The FDA underneath former President Donald Trump set its sights on lowering youth use of flavored tobacco merchandise similar to vape pens earlier than the pandemic struck this time final 12 months. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, was a crusader for this effort, proposing such restrictions as a ban on all pod-based digital cigarettes that are available flavors that attraction to kids, a transfer that might have crippled trade giants similar to Juul and NJoy.
The Trump administration additionally abandoned plans in 2019 to suggest new rules to lower the nicotine content material in cigarettes, with the purpose of constructing tobacco much less addictive. Gottlieb first launched the proposed rule in 2017, but it surely was shelved when he left his submit. Now, the Biden administration is reportedly considering an identical rule to restrict the quantity of nicotine permitted in tobacco merchandise to close nonaddictive ranges. A cap on nicotine may come subsequent week along with a ban on menthol cigarettes, the Wall Road Journal reported this week.
Tobacco shares took a hit following the reporting on Monday. Shares of Altria, the tobacco trade large that owns Philip Morris USA and a 35% stake in Juul, closed down greater than 6%, with one other 2% in after-hours buying and selling.
The ban on menthol cigarettes wouldn’t apply to different tobacco merchandise similar to e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches. Any new rules launched subsequent week by the FDA would apply solely to menthol cigarettes, however the tobacco trade is taking them as a sign of how the federal authorities will regulate menthol in e-cigarettes.