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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday unveiled plans to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, saying such action could significantly reduce illness and death.
“The proposed rule will help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “Furthermore, the proposed rule is an important step in promoting health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities. »
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The FDA said the rules build on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act and are a key part of the Biden administration’s cancer moonshot.
In April last year, the Biden administration Pledge to try to ban menthol during the year.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of cancer and cancer death, with approximately 30 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S. caused by smoking, according to the FDA.
A menthol product standard would reduce the attractiveness of cigarettes – especially for adolescents and young adults – and improve the health of current menthol cigarette smokers and reduce the risk of death by reducing cigarette consumption and increasing the likelihood of quitting.
Menthol use is particularly high among youth, young adults, African Americans, and other racial and ethnic groups.
Eliminating menthol cigarettes could prevent 300,000 to 650,000 smoking-related deaths within 40 years, the FDA said.
In addition, flavored cigar product standards would reduce the attractiveness of cigars, reduce the likelihood of experimentation and development of nicotine addiction, and improve public health by increasing the likelihood that current cigar smokers will quit.
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The FDA noted that it cannot and will not impose penalties on individual consumers who possess or use menthol cigarettes or flavored cigars.
If the rules are finalized and implemented, FDA enforcement will only apply to manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers, and retailers in the United States that manufacture, distribute, or sell such products that do not meet the applicable requirements.
In particular, state and local law enforcement agencies do not independently enforce federal food, drug, and cosmetic laws, and do not and cannot take enforcement action on behalf of FDA for any violation of FDA tobacco control authorities, including its regulations.
“The power to pass tobacco product standards is one of the most powerful tools Congress has given the FDA, and the actions we propose can help significantly reduce teen initiation and increase the chances of quitting for current smokers. Clearly, these efforts will help save life,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf. “Through the rulemaking process, the public has an important opportunity to have their voices heard and help shape FDA’s ongoing efforts to improve public health. »
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Eliminating menthol would be Crackdown on tobacco companies Previous efforts have been resisted by Big Tobacco, members of Congress and competing political interests under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
The FDA is facing legal pressure to issue a ruling after anti-tobacco and civil rights groups sued the government for “unreasonably” delaying action on previous menthol ban demands.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.