On April 29, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to advance two proposed tobacco product standards within the next year that would ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars (including menthol-flavored cigars) from the marketplace in the United States. The proposed standards align with the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s recommendation that FDA ban the addition of menthol to cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products as a characterizing flavor.
FDA’s announcement highlights evidence that menthol enhances the effects of nicotine, making tobacco products with menthol more addictive and harder to quit using that tobacco products without menthol. One study suggests that banning menthol cigarettes in the U.S. would lead an additional 923,000 smokers to quit in the first 13 to 17 months after a ban goes into effect, and another study projected that about 633,000 deaths would be averted.
If implemented, FDA would work to ensure that any unlawful tobacco products do not make their way onto the consumer market. The agency’s enforcement of any ban on menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars would only address manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers, and retailers. The agency cannot and will not act to enforce any bans against individual consumer possession or use of banned products.
The Association for Clinical Oncology applauds the FDA for its latest actions and stands ready to work with FDA to advance policies that will help reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and prevent the occurrence of cancer and other smoking-caused diseases.
Bookmark ASCO in Action for updates on the proposed standards, as well as news, advocacy, and analysis on cancer policy.