National ban on menthol cigarettes is coming

National ban on menthol cigarettes is coming
E-cigarette, which is much less harmful to your health than a regular cigarette.

The federal government is likely to ban menthol cigarettes, even though menthol cigarettes are no worse than other cigarettes, and even though banning menthol cigarettes won’t prevent people from smoking, and will create a black market in menthol cigarettes.

Dr. Jeffrey Singer explains:

In April 2022, when the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and cigars, I blogged about it, explaining why it was a bad idea. Later, in response to the agency’s request for public comments on the proposal, I submitted these comments, which stated the agency’s war on menthol tobacco is not evidence‐​based and warned that a ban would fuel a black market…Alas, my warnings went unheeded. Last Friday, the FDA formally submitted its proposed ban to the Office of Management and Budget. The OMB can make final tweaks to the proposed rule, but this is one of the last steps the FDA must take before the rule goes into effect. The Biden administration supports the ban and will likely encourage the OMB to sign off….according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2020, 81 percent of Black and 51 percent of Hispanic smokers preferred menthol‐​flavored cigarettes…

The proposed product standard will not work, and will likely foster a black market….researchers from Yale and Duke universities reported on what is already happening where states have banned menthol tobacco just last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Synthetic chemicals that mimic menthol’s cooling sensations are being added to newly introduced “non‐​menthol” cigarettes in states that have banned the additive. The additives appear to be an effort to circumvent an expected federal ban of menthol cigarettes by the FDA later this year. Already, California and Massachusetts have enacted laws banning sales of menthol cigarettes.

In 2011, researchers conducted a prospective cohort study with over 85,000 participants….They concluded: “The findings suggest that menthol cigarettes are no more, and perhaps less, harmful than non‐​menthol cigarettes.”

Research conducted by Dr. Brian Rostron of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products …. concluded: “We found evidence of lower cancer mortality risk among menthol smokers compared with non‐​menthol smokers among smokers at ages 50 and over in the U.S. population.”

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in April 2022…found that menthol smokers had no greater difficulty quitting tobacco than non‐​menthol smokers. Perhaps more significantly, the researchers performed a meta‐​analysis of all the research on menthol cigarettes and cancer risk and concluded, “A significantly lower risk [12 percent lower] of lung cancer is seen among menthol smokers.”

A January 2020 study by the Reason Foundation found states with the highest menthol cigarette consumption had the lowest youth smoking rates….Menthol smokers tend to smoke fewer cigarettes per day. This might help partially explain the lower lung cancer mortality rate among menthol cigarette smokers.

The EU banned menthol cigarettes in 2020. A recent EU survey finds 40 percent of menthol smokers switched to non‐​menthol, and only 8 percent quit smoking. And menthol smokers have come up with workarounds, such as “mentholizing” recessed cigarette filters and menthol flavor inserts, or have added menthol to their tobacco.

More importantly, however, 13 percent reported getting menthol cigarettes from “other sources.” A black market for smuggled menthol cigarettes has emerged. A significant source is Belarus, where menthol brands such as Minsk, Fest, and Queen are smuggled into EU countries. The UK press reported that such “illicit whites,” as they are called, are smuggled into the country by gangs and can be purchased “under the counter” from small British tobacconists for the right price.

The FDA has also moved to ban harmless non-tobacco products by defining them legally as “tobacco products.”

The Biden administration is working on a plan to cut the nicotine content of cigarettes, which would likely result in smokers smoking more cigarettes to satisfy their craving for nicotine. Smoking more cigarettes means more cancer risk. It is the smoke from cigarettes that causes cancer — not the nicotine in them.

As Reason Magazine notes,

Nicotine is the substance in cigarettes that makes them physically addictive. But nicotine itself isn’t what makes cigarettes so dangerous. (Some scientists “wonder if a daily dose could be as benign as the caffeine many of us get from a morning coffee,” notes Scientific American.) It’s the other ingredients in cigarettes, and the byproducts of combustion, that make smoking cigarettes so bad for you….In a world with lower-nicotine cigarettes, people already addicted to nicotine will still be addicted—they’ll just have to smoke more cigarettes to get their nicotine fix. That means that mandating all U.S. cigarettes be low-nicotine cigarettes could actually make smoking riskier by requiring smokers to smoke more and consume more of the other substances in cigarettes in order to get the same level of nicotine they’re used to.

Filter magazine discusses the possibility that lowering nicotine levels could backfire by making smokers think that cigarettes are harmless if they contain less nicotine — even though they aren’t. It says the FDA’s “scaremongering has managed to convince many people that nicotine is the most harmful ingredient of a combustible cigarette, when nicotine does not cause significant harms.” As a result, “many smokers may understand the new products to be a government-approved green light to carry on smoking tobacco. This misguided understanding is liable to have deadly consequences.”

Meanwhile, notes Reason, “while authorities have gone all-in on low-nicotine cigarettes as a means to reduce smoking, they’ve repeatedly attacked a more sane way to do so: promoting vaping—which provides nicotine without the tar and combustion—as an alternative to smoking.”

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.


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