After causing decades of harm to the Black community, menthol cigarettes may be coming off shelves for good. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently moved forward with its proposal to ban the products. The agency sent its rules to the White House for final review last month, the last regulatory step before official rules are issued.
Yolonda C. Richardson, president and CEO of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says the ban represents “truly historic action to drive down tobacco use — the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.”
“Once implemented, [the rules] will protect kids from tobacco addiction, advance health equity and save hundreds of thousands of lives, especially Black lives,” she said in a statement.
The Deadly Effect of Menthols
Cigarette smoking kills nearly half a million Americans each year, including people who die from second-hand smoke. Menthol cigarettes are to blame for most of the lives lost. Between 1980 and 2018, the mint-flavored cigarettes killed approximately 377,528 people. Black smokers made up 41% of those deaths, despite representing only 13.6% of the U.S. population, according to a 2021 study by the University of Michigan.