NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

FDA cracking down on Big Tobacco following menthol ruling

Cigarettes, as well as other Tobacco products take lives every single day. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco products are responsible for 7 million deaths a year, and in the United States alone it’s around 480 thousand. If the pattern of smoking doesn’t change, then by 2030 the CDC predicts that tobacco related death counts will reach 8 million a year. As grim as this sounds, things may start changing.

This fight goes all the way back to 2009, when a U.S law passed called The 2009 Tobacco Control Act, which gave The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate the tobacco industry, also banned the sale of all flavored cigarettes. There was one exception, however. Menthol, which gives cigarettes an almost minty flavor to soothe the harsh flavor of regular cigarette smoke, was exempt from the ban due to there being major pushback from the tobacco industry, as well as there being a lack of evidence to ban menthol. The FDA has said they have attempted several times to get rid of menthol since 2009, but they have “faced pushback from Big Tobacco, members of Congress and competing political interests in both the Obama and Trump administrations.”

However, finally, April 29, 2021 the FDA has finally put the lid on an almost 12 year long debate, beginning to pursue banning the sale of menthol flavored tobacco products, citing multiple health concerns, such as there being an overwhelming number of young people and minority smokers primarily smoking mint flavored cigarettes, the 2020 study in which non-Hispanic Black high school students reported past 30-day cigar smoking at levels twice as high as their White counterparts, and the statistic stating that nearly 74% of youth aged 12-17 who use cigars say they smoke cigars because they come in flavors they enjoy.

One study conducted by Tobacco Control in 2020 suggest that banning menthol cigarettes in the U.S would lead  923,000 smokers to quit in the first 13 to 17 months after a ban were to go into effect.“These flavor standards would reduce cigarette and cigar initiation and use, reduce health disparities, and promote health equality by addressing a significant and disparate source of harm,” said the FDA in their initial news release, “Taken together, these policies will help save lives and improve the public health of our country as we confront the leading cause of preventable disease and death.”

Related Articles