The Food and Drug Administration has started the process of banning the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.
According to a lawsuit filed by the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council and the Action on Smoking and Health, the FDA faced a 2013 deadline to make the move after a citizen petition was filed urging the FDA to ban the flavored cigarettes.
Officials said the ban will save lives and reduce the number of young people who start smoking. The FDA cited a study that estimated 923,000 people would quit smoking within 17 months if menthol cigarettes are banned. Another study estimated that the ban would prevent about 633,000 deaths.
Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said “With these actions, the FDA will help significantly reduce youth initiation, increase the chances of smoking cessation among current smokers, and address health disparities experienced by communities of color, low-income populations, and LGBTQ+ individuals, all of whom are far more likely to use these tobacco products.”
It can take up to 2-4 years before menthol cigarettes are banned from being manufactured or sold in the United States.