The US to ban menthol cigarettes

Washington, United States: On Thursday, US health officials declared their intention to ban menthol cigarettes in the near future, claiming that the action would save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Groups who have been fighting for a menthol ban for decades applauded the decision.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working on new safety guidelines that would recognize menthol as a spice, which is prohibited in cigarettes, as well as prohibit all flavored cigars.

"It's been a long road, but we're here now," said Delmonte Jefferson, executive director of the Center for Black Health & Equity. "This is victory."

"With these actions, the FDA will help significantly reduce youth initiation, increase the chances of smoking cessation among current smokers, and address health disparities experienced by communities of color, low-income populations, and LGBTQ+ individuals, all of whom are far more likely to use these tobacco products," acting FDA commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock told reporters that menthol "has anesthetic properties and qualities that help mask the harshness and discomfort of tobacco smoke."

According to the FDA, studies show that menthol aids in the progression to regular smoking, especially among youths and young adults.

Furthermore, the agency stated that prohibiting the substance would help eliminate racial inequalities in health since it is estimated that 85 percent of all Black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to 30 percent of white smokers.

According to the FDA, there are about 18.6 million menthol cigarette smokers in the United States.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the world, accounting for 480,000 deaths each year.

Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, stated that the agency hopes to publish the new draught regulations within a year, after which they will be available for public comment.

The measure, however, would not apply to e-cigarettes. Former President Donald Trump's administration prohibited flavored pod-based e-cigarettes but exempted menthol.

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