(CNN) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking steps to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes and all flavored cigars, including menthol-flavored cigarettes, within the next year, according to an announcement by the agency on Thursday.
The aim is to “significantly reduce illness and death” by using these two products. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Studies show that menthol flavors make tobacco products more attractive and can lead people, especially young people, to smoke regularly. Advertisers of menthol-flavored cigarettes have disproportionately targeted the black community.
Menthol flavoring is also believed to be addictive and harder to quit. Another study showed that a menthol ban would cause 923,000 smokers to quit in just over a year, including 230,000 African Americans.
The FDA has announced that it will create new product standards next year. The rules would only apply to manufacturers, distributors, retailers, wholesalers and importers so that the product never gets to market. The agency cannot take action against anyone who owns or uses menthol tobacco products.
“Banning menthol – the last legal taste – in cigarettes and banning all flavors in cigars will help save lives, especially among those disproportionately affected by these deadly products,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock in a statement. “With these actions, the FDA will help significantly reduce adolescent initiation, increase the likelihood of quitting among current smokers, and address health inequalities that occur among color communities, low-income populations, and LGBTQ + individuals, all of whom are far more likely these tobacco products are to be used. “