US regulators plans to ban menthol cigarettes when they impose stricter rules on sales of flavored e-cigarettes in a bid to stop Americans – particularly young ones – from feeling lured into the dangerous habit.
Officials at the US Food and Drug Administration told the Wall Street Journal that menthol cigarettes are known for being harder to quit, likely because the flavor soothes the throat while injecting a hit of addictive nicotine.
Combustible cigarettes have taken a backseat as the FDA carries out a vendetta on e-cigarettes, which are soaring among popularity among young people, rather than adults trying to quit, who were supposed to be the target market.
But this week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has revealed a number of strategies he plans to explore to crack down harder on smoking in every group.
Among e-cigarettes, he plans to make it harder to buy flavored products underage – even online – since that is how most young people seem to start. Menthol cigarettes are the second most popular among young people, so he’s loosely cutting that supply too.
Officials at the FDA said menthol cigarettes are known for being harder to quit, likely because the flavor soothes the throat while injecting a hit of addictive nicotine
The ban could take two years to reach the market, the Wall Street Journal says.
The agency first presented data in 2013 showing menthols are harder to quit, but only recently suggested they may move to ban them.
Today, FDA officials confirmed to the Journal that the agency is going ahead with its steady push against the minty products – as the tobacco industry pushes back.
Speaking on Politico’s Pulsecheck podcast this morning, Dr Scott Gottlieb said he has no immediate plans to ban or limit the sale of minty e-cigarettes as he cracks down on attractive flavors.
When it comes to e-cigarettes, he is focusing on fruity flavors, which he says are the most attractive to young never-smokers.
But for smokers trying to quit, the devices are certainly safer than tobacco products, and they need something that doesn’t remind them of the sticks that got them hooked in the first place.
‘Would you give a recovering alcoholic a whiskey-flavored drink? No. So we don’t want to leave smokers with only tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes,’ Gottlieb told Politico’s Pulsecheck podcast on Thursday.
However, for teens suddenly cut off from their favorite flavors, they will then be left with minty e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes – which, to the naive, may seem one in the same.
The move to ban menthols may at least funnel consumers into one, more manageable direction.