WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is planning to push for a ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been the target of anti-smoking advocates and civil rights activists who say the industry has aggressively marketed to Black Americans, according to a published report.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday the administration also will seek to ban menthol and other flavors in mass-produced cigars, including small cigars popular with young people.
The administration is set to announce the proposed ban this week, the paper said.
The cigarette ban would not require congressional approval, but the Food and Drug Administration would have to submit proposed rules and seek public comment. A final ban could take years and would likely be challenged in court by the tobacco industry, which has repeatedly sued the FDA to block anti-tobacco regulation.
The FDA had no comment.
In 2018, the FDA moved to limit flavored e-cigarette products that appealed to children, including fruit and mint, but menthol was not included. That came nine years after the agency banned cigarettes with “characterizing flavors other than menthol,” which also appealed to youth.
A citizen petition filed in 2013 by a national public health advocates called for the FDA to ban menthol as one of those “characterizing flavors.” The FDA is expected to answer that petition by Thursday.
Cigarette smoking has declined in recent years, but tobacco use remains a leading source of illness and death in the United States and worldwide, especially among people of color.