(CNN) — The US Food and Drug Administration is taking steps to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes and all flavored cigars, including menthol flavor, within the next year, according to an agency announcement Thursday.
The aim is to “significantly reduce disease and death” from using these two products. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Studies show that menthol flavoring increases the appeal of tobacco products and can lead people, particularly young people, to become regular smokers. Advertisers of menthol-flavored cigarettes have disproportionately targeted the Black community.
Menthol flavoring is also believed to be more addictive and harder to quit. Another study showed that if menthol was banned, within a little over a year, it would lead 923,000 smokers to quit, including 230,000 African Americans.
The FDA said it will work to create new product standards within the next year. The regulations would only apply to manufacturers, distributors, retailers, wholesalers and importers so that the product would never make it to the market. The agency cannot take against individuals who would possess or use menthol tobacco products.
“Banning menthol—the last allowable flavor—in cigarettes and banning all flavors in cigars will help save lives, particularly among those disproportionately affected by these deadly products,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “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.”