What Happens If
The FDA’s Menthol Ban Passes?
On November 15, 2018, the FDA announced plans to issue a regulation that would ban menthol cigarettes. This would take menthol cigarettes off the market completely, and if it were to take effect, you wouldn’t be able to legally purchase them anymore.
For the proposed regulation to take effect, FDA must establish that there’s a health difference between menthol and non-menthol cigarettes. So far, FDA hasn’t indicated a health difference but has pointed to certain studies suggesting that menthol cigarettes might lead to earlier initiation, greater dependence or more difficulty with quitting than non-menthol cigarettes. It should be noted that there are many studies that question FDA’s current view.
> How this affects menthol smokers
In short, if you smoke menthol cigarettes, you won’t have access to your favorite products if the FDA enacts this ban.
In 2009, Congress, in enacting the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, banned the sale of all flavored cigarettes with the exception of menthol. Going forward, FDA was given responsibility for regulating the remaining types of cigarettes on the market; that being menthol and non-menthol cigarettes. Instead of simply placing restrictions on the sale or advertising of menthol cigarettes, FDA has its sights set on banning menthol entirely. That means if you’re a menthol smoker, you will no longer be able to legally purchase your preferred products if the ban comes into effect.
> The effect of a menthol ban on non-menthol smokers
Smokers who already choose non-mentholated cigarettes may think this ban doesn’t affect them. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Any time a ban on adult consumer choice is put into place, everyone suffers.
When a product goes away, the demand doesn’t go away with it. Evidence suggests that when the government bans products like menthol cigarettes, existing black markets grow while new ones develop. Black markets are alarming because they’re totally unregulated. Historically, unregulated markets have led to increased crime in affected communities.
> The future and the solution
After the 2009 ban, menthol smokers didn’t imagine their product would be on the chopping block, but here we are. Today’s proposed ban of choice is menthol, but what will tomorrow hold? Increased regulations are one thing, but complete bans on an entire category of legal products is another.
FDA’s statements have led some states and localities to pursue flavor bans on their own. We have a chance to impact these regulations before they happen.
Inform yourself about how flavor bans can affect your daily life. Then sign up for alerts, so that when it’s time to make your voice heard, you can let lawmakers know you are against tobacco flavor bans.