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As FDA Weighs Banning Menthol Cigarettes, We Discuss Its Impact




Packs of Newport cigarettes are seen on a shelf in a grocery store in the Flatbush neighborhood on April 29, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Packs of Newport cigarettes are seen on a shelf in a grocery store in the Flatbush neighborhood on April 29, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

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U.S. health regulators pledged again Thursday to try to ban menthol cigarettes, this time under pressure from African American groups to remove the mint flavor popular among Black smokers.

The Food and Drug Administration has attempted several times to get rid of menthol but faced pushback from Big Tobacco, members of Congress and competing political interests in both the Obama and Trump administrations. Any menthol ban will take years to implement and will likely face legal challenges from tobacco companies.

Thursday’s announcement is the result of a lawsuit filed by anti-smoking and medical groups last summer to force the FDA to finally make a decision on menthol, alleging that regulators had “unreasonably delayed” responding to a 2013 petition seeking to ban the flavor. The deadline for the agency’s response was Thursday. The FDA said it aims to introduce the regulations banning the flavor in the coming year.

There has also been some discourse in implementing such a ban despite the drug disproportionately hurting the health of Black Americans, with the policing of this issue potentially becoming a problematic byproduct of the proposed policy. Today on AirTalk, we debate the potential outcomes of this proposed FDA policy and weigh its benefits and risks. Questions? Call us at 866-893-5722.

With files from the Associated Press

Guests:

Carol McGruder, co-chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council; she tweets @aatclc

Jody Armour, professor of law at USC; he wrote “The carceral consequences of a menthol cigarette ban on communities of color”; he tweets @NiggaTheory