Explained: Why US wants to ban menthol cigarettes, and what ‘racial justice’ has to do with it

What is the News?

The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a proposal to ban menthol cigarettes and flavoured cigars.

What is the proposal of the US on Menthol Cigarettes?
Source: Indian Express

The US aims to prohibit menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and prohibit all characterizing flavors (other than tobacco) in cigars.

What are the reasons behind this menthol cigarettes ban?

Health: Menthol has a minty taste and aroma. Further, it reduces the irritation and harshness of smoking. This increases the appeal and makes menthol cigarettes easier to use, particularly for youth and young adults.

Menthol interacts with nicotine in the brain to enhance nicotine’s addictive effects. Thus making it more difficult for people to quit smoking.

Younger Population: The proposed ban will affect a large share of the smoker population, especially young adults and racially disadvantaged groups.

Which countries have already banned menthol cigarettes?

The first country in the world to ban menthol cigarettes was Brazil in 2012.

In 2017, Canada banned these cigarettes and the European Union in 2020. Turkey, Moldova and Ethiopia have also banned menthol cigarettes.

What about India on Menthol Cigarettes?

India has not banned the sale of menthol cigarettes.

In 2019, the Government of India banned electronic cigarettes. In addition, different states have their own rules in place banning hookah consumption, including flavoured hookahs, in public places.

What will be the impact of the menthol cigarettes ban in India?

If India were to ban menthol and other flavored cigarettes, the impact might be limited, given that chewing tobacco and bidi are the most common forms of tobacco use.

Moreover, banning such products has logistical issues as well because banning will increase the smuggling of the products.

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Why US wants to ban menthol cigarettes, and what ‘racial justice’ has to do with it” published in Indian Express on 29th April 2022.

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