WASHINGTON, D.C. — There’s a growing effort to ban menthol cigarettes, which anti-smoking advocates said are intentionally marketed to children and minority communities.
More than a dozen organizations first signed a petition to have menthol cigarettes banned in 2013.
Now, the Food and Drug Administration is under a court order to respond to that push after petitioners argued there’s been an unreasonable delay.
Anti-tobacco groups argue tobacco products with flavors such as mint, cotton candy and captain crunch are intentionally marketed to children.
Matthew Myers is the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids.
“Never has it been more important to act quickly and decisively. 50% of the kids who smoke in the United States start with menthol because it makes it easier to start and 85% of African Americans who smoke in the U.S. use the menthol because the industry has targeted them,” said Myers.
The FDA estimates nearly 20 million Americans smoke menthol cigarettes.
Tobacco companies have defended the sale of menthol cigarettes, saying prohibiting adult behavior doesn’t work.
The FDA has until the end of April to respond to the petition.
There will be a public comment period if the FDA chooses to move ahead with the ban.