Your Health: Banning menthol

Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 5:21 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - In 2009, the federal government banned almost all flavoring for tobacco products. The move was designed to make smoking less attractive, especially for younger people. Now, health experts say it’s time for the government to finish what it started by banning menthol – not just in cigarettes and cigars – but all smoking products.

Cigarette makers first started adding menthol to their products decades ago to give the smokes a minty after-taste.

“It tends to make nicotine products easier to try,” said Theodor Wagener, with the CDC. “So, it’s easier for young people or non-tobacco use to initiate with menthol products.”

Wagener and his colleagues studied the addictive potential of not just cigarettes and cigars, but all smoking products containing menthol.

“It actually changes how nicotine is metabolized in the body. Because of that, people have a tendency to have a more difficult time quitting,” Wagener said.

The FDA announced a proposal to ban menthol in cigars and cigarettes in 2022. Wagener said his research shows that the proposal doesn’t go far enough.

“It leaves open the possibility that smokers can use menthol, roll-your-own pipe tobacco and cigarette tubes to create a roll-your-own cigarette that’s mentholated,” Wagener said.

The FDA is reviewing public comments on its proposed ban and is expected to rule on it in the next few months.

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