Healthcare Economy

FDA Looks to Crack Down on Menthol Cigarettes and Maybe More

Smoking seems to be the next hot topic with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the agency now looking to cut out some flavors of cigarettes. While nothing is set in stone, the FDA is considering banning or restricting menthol and other flavors from tobacco products.

In preparation, the agency is issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) and calling upon all stakeholders to share data, research and information that can inform its process for examining the role that flavors – including menthol – play in initiation, use and cessation of tobacco products.

The public docket for this ANPRM will be open for 90 days starting Wednesday. This action follows another important step forward in the FDA’s multiyear roadmap to achieve a world where combustible cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still seek nicotine could get it from alternative and potentially less harmful sources.

Previously, the FDA issued an ANPRM last week to explore a product standard to lower nicotine in cigarettes to minimally or nonaddictive levels.

The concerns around flavors in tobacco are not new to the FDA. For years the agency has recognized that flavors in these products appeal to kids and promote youth initiation. According to the FDA, each day in the United States, more than 2,300 youth under the age of 18 years smoke their first cigarette, and nearly 1,900 youth smoke their first cigar.

Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner, commented:

No child should use any tobacco products, including e-cigarette. At the same time, we’re aware that certain flavors may help currently addicted adult smokers switch to potentially less harmful forms of nicotine-containing tobacco products.

This is not the first time that the FDA has cracked down on big tobacco. Back in 2009, the FDA banned certain flavors in cigarettes, but menthol was excluded from those new rules, as were other tobacco products. Recently, e-cigarettes have come under fire for their fruity flavors serving as a gateway for kids.