On April 29, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its commitment to advancing two tobacco product standards that will significantly reduce disease and death from using combusted tobacco products. FDA is working toward issuing proposed product standards within the next year to ban menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and ban all characterizing flavors (including menthol) in cigars. This decision is based on clear science and evidence establishing the addictiveness and harm of these products and builds on important, previous actions that banned other flavored cigarettes in 2009
Numerous studies have shown that menthol increases the appeal of tobacco and facilitates progression to regular smoking, particularly among youth and young adults. Menthol masks unpleasant flavors and harshness of tobacco products, making them easier to start using. Tobacco products with menthol can also be more addictive and harder to quit by enhancing the effects of nicotine.
As the menthol cigarettes uptake is disproportionally high among African Americans and some other populations, it is estimated that banning menthol cigarettes in the U.S. would lead an additional 923,000 smokers to quit, including 230,000 African Americans in the first 13 to 17 months after a ban goes into effect. As a result, about 633,000 deaths would be averted, including about 237,000 deaths averted for African Americans.