President Biden’s administration is clearing the smoke on the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes. This nicotine product accounts for more than one-third of all cigarettes sold in the US each year. Menthol cigarettes have historically been heavily marketed toward blacks, and the FDA specifically noted that a move to ban them would save the lives of 92,000 to 238,000 African Americans.
Breakdowns you need to know:
CultureBanx has announced that the FDA intends to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes in the US, as well as all flavored cigars. In 2020, 81% of black smokers and 51% of Hispanic smokers in the US used menthol, compared to 30% of white smokers, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In 2013, the FDA found that menthols are harder to quit and likely pose a greater health risk than regular cigarettes. Tobacco use leads to more than 480,000 deaths annually in the US, and approximately 45,000 African Americans die each year from smoking-related diseases.
Addiction to money:
Being addicted to menthol flavored nicotine is one thing, being addicted to making money is much harder to quit. Case and point; In 2017, British American Tobacco spent nearly $50 billion to buy Newport Reynolds American, the leading US brand of menthol cigarettes. According to Morgan Stanley, menthols account for roughly 30% of British American Tobacco’s global cigarette profits in the US.
Stopping the sale of menthol cigarettes would be a huge hit for these companies. British American Tobacco shares are up 8.7% over the past year.
What will be next:
Menthol smokers are younger than average, so they represent a longer potential smoking time, the Wall Street Journal reported. Adolescents at Risk for Nicotine Addiction and Children Without Tobacco reported that 3.2% of African-American high school students smoked in 2019, compared to 9.9% of whites and 7.2% of Hispanics. Menthol, which has a taste similar to cough syrup, attracts minority teens and usually makes it easier to smoke and harder to quit, according to the National African-American Tobacco Prevention Network.
The ban on menthol cigarettes would not apply to menthol e-cigarettes. It will also be effective for at least two years, if not longer. The FDA could publish final rules as early as 2023.