AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a few months, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to release final regulations to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Some lawmakers are taking up the proposed ban on a state-wide level, including Texas Sen. Carol Alvarado of Houston.
Senate Bill 920 would prohibit the sale of flavored cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Advocates say it’s about public health.
The Centers of Disease Control found the following:
“In 2021, 39% of middle school and high school students who currently smoked cigarettes reported using menthol cigarettes. In 2019, 51% percent of young adults (18-25 years old) who currently smoked cigarettes reported using menthol cigarettes. That same year, 39% of adults (over 25 years old) who currently smoked cigarettes reported using menthol cigarettes.”
According to The FDA, menthol makes cigarettes more addictive and harder to quit.
“Menthol in particular, it helps the poison go down easier. Menthol numbs your throat and it really stops your body from having the normal reaction that would have when you’re putting these poisons and toxins in your body,” said Carol McGruder with the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council.
The group is closly following the expected ruling by the FDA later this year and said a ban would greatly positively impact the Black community.
“African Americans smoke less than others, yet we have more death and morbidity from smoking,” said McGruder. “Smoking is a major driver of those inequities and the health disparities that we see with African Americans in this country.”
The FDA found studies that indicate a ban on menthol cigarettes would save up to 654,000 lives within 40 years, including 238,000 Black Americans.
“It would really make a big impact on the 45,000 black lives that we lose every year to tobacco induced diseases. And we’d begin the process of undoing that great harm to our community,” said McGruder of a possible ban.
Critics argue a ban could be discriminatory, but The FDA menthol ban would ban the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes not criminalize individuals for buying or using menthol flavored tobacco.