New York– The Food and Drug Administration is considering a ban on menthol cigarettes; fueling a debate about how such a move would impact African Americans.
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Today, black smokers are four times more likely to choose menthols than white smokers. By 2005, half of black smokers smoked Newports, the most popular menthol brand.
Research has shown that flavored cigarettes attract young new smokers. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed by President Obama in June 2009, authorized the FDA to ban all cigarette flavors except minty menthol, whose brands represent more than a quarter of cigarettes sold in the USA.
“Banning flavored cigarettes, which mask the harshness of tobacco—something that can deter some first-time smokers, especially children—is a positive move,” they wrote. “But, by failing to ban menthol, the bill caves to the financial interests of tobacco companies and discriminates against African Americans.”