The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it will begin the process of banning menthol tobacco cigarettes, as well as all flavored cigars, from the U.S. market.
The Food and Drug Administration Initiates the process of banning menthol tobacco cigarettes
An anticipated move, which is expected to improve the health of groups most likely to smoke menthol cigarettes, including children and black Americans.
“With these measures, the FDA will help to significantly reduce youth initiation, increase the likelihood of quitting smoking among current smokers,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner, in a statement.
However, the regulatory agency stopped short of including menthol-flavored e-cigarettes.
Still, public health experts applauded the move.
“The FDA has taken a historic, life-saving step,” said Dr. Richard Besser, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, writing in a statement.
The groups sued because the agency had failed to respond to a citizens’ petition sent to it in 2013 in which it planned to ban menthol as a flavor in cigarettes.
Thursday’s announcement is just the first step in a long regulatory process to tackle the market for menthol products.
Menthol cigarettes are expected to be available for at least two more years.