Earlier today FDA announced it intends to advance two tobacco product standards — one to ban menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and another to ban all characterizing flavors (including menthol) in cigars. FDA intends to issue proposed product standards within the next year. With the announcement, the FDA granted a citizen petition requesting that the agency pursue rulemaking to prohibit menthol in cigarettes.
In the U.S., it is estimated that there are nearly 18.6 million current smokers of menthol cigarettes. But use of menthol cigarettes among smokers is not uniform: out of all Black smokers, nearly 85% smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to 30% of White smokers who smoke menthols. In addition, among youth, from 2011 to 2018, declines in menthol cigarette use were observed among non-Hispanic White youth but not among non-Hispanic Black or Hispanic youth.
After the 2009 statutory ban on flavors in cigarettes other than menthol, use of flavored cigars increased dramatically. Flavored mass-produced cigars and cigarillos are combusted tobacco products that can closely resemble cigarettes, pose many of the same public health problems, and are disproportionately popular among youth and other populations.