Why The Proposed Menthol Tobacco Ban Could Benefit Black And Young Americans Most

This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a proposal on menthol cigarettes in the United States (via WebMD). The proposed ban also includes most flavored cigars. According to Tobacco Free CA, menthol cigarettes have been heavily marketed toward Black Americans, contributing to the disproportionate levels of lung cancer in this group. According to a 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 85% of Black smokers prefer menthol cigarettes over other options. The FDA believes that this decision could save the lives of up to 238,000 Black Americans in the next 40 years (via FDA).

Young people are also more likely to try menthol cigarettes because they have a mild and pleasant flavor. However, menthol cigarettes are just as harmful as non-menthol cigarettes (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Some studies even show that people who start smoking menthol cigarettes have a more difficult time quitting than those who smoke non-menthol options. This ban could positively impact hundreds of thousands of young people in the future.

The dangers of menthol cigarettes

Menthol cigarettes are often advertised as being safer or less harmful than regular cigarettes, but this is not the case. Menthol cigarettes are just as harmful as regular cigarettes and can cause a range of health problems (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Menthol, often found in cold and flu medications, creates a cooling effect that creates a less intense sensation for a smoker. But menthol only masks the damage that these cigarettes cause to the body.

Menthol cigarettes contain the same harmful chemicals as regular cigarettes, including nicotine and tar (via MD Anderson Cancer Center). These chemicals are known to cause cancer, heart disease, and other serious health conditions. Menthol also numbs your throat and airways, making it harder to feel the negative effects of smoking and reducing your motivation to quit. If you are a smoker, it is important to understand the risks associated with this habit and make every effort to quit (via CDC). With the help of counseling, medications, and other resources, you can break free from addiction and protect your health for years to come.