Smoking rates among U.S. adults have continued to decline over the past decade, but most people who quit say they have given up traditional cigarettes instead of mint-flavored cigarettes. A 2009 law by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned cherries, chocolate and other cigarettes that appeal to young smokers, but do not include mint flavors. Now, experts are starting to pay attention to the problem of mint-flavored cigarettes.
The 2009 ban on flavored cigarettes has been heavily criticised, with many experts pointing out that mint can help reduce the pungentness of tobacco and make it easier for new smokers to get into habits. Similarly, mint cigarettes are sold in large numbers in the black community, raising concerns about social justice.
Researchers at Rutgers University have published three new studies highlighting the problems surrounding mint-flavored cigarettes, including those used by Americans. Experts renewed their call for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the cigarettes, expressing concern that they are particularly harmful to minority communities and that they make it easier for a new generation of children to start smoking.
The FDA notes on its website that there are nearly 20 million mint smokers in the United States, more than 85 percent of them black, followed by 46 percent of Hispanics and 39 percent of Asians. Only about 29% of mint smokers are white.
Cristine Delnevo, director of the Center for Tobacco Research at Rutgers University, said in a recent interview:
Our study also found that local bans at the city level are likely not enough to reduce the supply of mint cigarettes. This is not to say that a local ban is a bad idea. Local movements can develop into state-wide movements, as they did in California. Ideally, however, we should address this problem at the national level. The Senate should stand up and pass HR 2339, the “Reverse the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019” – which would ban mint tobacco nationwide, an important step in protecting public health and achieving health equity in the United States.