The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to announce a ban on menthol cigarettes, those most likely to be smoked by African-Americans and younger smokers.
The ban would go into effect immediately, but would likely take years to fully implement, analysts say. For years health advocates have railed against consumer targeting in the tobacco industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) nearly nine of every 10 African-American smokers (88.5 percent) aged 12 years and older prefer menthol cigarettes and menthol products are given more shelf space in retail outlets within African-American and other minority neighborhoods.
The NAACP praised the FDA’s possible ban.
“The NAACP is pleased to hear of the FDA plan to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes,” said the civil rights organization in a statement. “For decades, data has shown that the tobacco industry has successfully and intentionally marketed mentholated cigarettes to African-Americans and particularly African-American women as ‘replacement smokers;’ that menthol smokers have a harder time quitting smoking and that tobacco use is a major contributor to heart disease, cancer and stroke – three leading causes of death among African-Americans.”
The recognition of this reality led the NAACP to adopt a unanimous resolution at its 2016 National Convention supporting state and local policy efforts to restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products, as well as advocating for the FDA’s oversight and review of all tobacco products.
“The proposed measure by the FDA is long overdue to protect the health of African-Americans and to reduce the deleterious impact of menthol smoking and tobacco use overall on America’s health,” said Marjorie Innocent, NAACP senior director of Health Programs.