The FDA Is Reportedly Looking To Ban Menthol Cigarettes

Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty

Following a report this week that the Food and Drug Administration in the US was planning to announce a crackdown on the sale of some flavoured vaping products, a separate report claims traditional menthol cigarettes could also be on the chopping block.

Citing senior agency officials familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Commissioner Scott Gottlieb may be looking to begin a potentially multi-year process to have menthols banned. The process would reportedly require a year or more for any such ban to be finalised and an additional year for it to be enforced, according to the Journal.

In its own report on the rumoured proposal, the New York Times noted that Gottlieb indicated as recently as last month that such a ban on menthols could be forthcoming. But the paper said that the regulatory processes the FDA would need to navigate to enact the ban could take "several years." Both publications said major tobacco companies either did not respond to or declined requests for comment.

A separate report from the Washington Post this week said that the FDA was planning to announce a ban on the sale of flavoured cartridges, or pods, in "tens of thousands of convenience stores and gas stations across the country" as soon as next week. The rumoured ban comes as a crackdown on what the agency calls an "epidemic" of teen vaping. The ban will reportedly not affect the sale of menthol pods, however, as the Post said the agency didn't want to inadvertently encourage the purchase of traditional menthol cigarettes.

The Journal also reported that Juul Labs — the largest maker of e-cigarettes and a preferred brand among teens — planned to stop the sale of most of its flavoured e-cigarettes at brick-and-mortar stores, though it will reportedly continue to sell its flavoured cartridges on its website.

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, told Gizmodo in a statement by email that "there is room for better enforcement" to keep teens from vaping but criticised the reported ban for its potential impact on adults.

"This reported move by Commissioner Gottlieb will only serve to make it harder for adult smokers to switch to a far less harmful alternative," he said. "Not every town has a vape shop, meaning that for many smokers, it will be much easier to pick up a pack of Marlboros or Camels — or even an unrestricted cherry-flavoured cigar — at a local convenience store than it will be to make the switch to a vaping product that truly helps him or her break their desire for cigarettes."

[Wall Street Journal]

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