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FDA Announces Plan for Ban of Menthol Cigarettes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced their stance in response to a citizens petition, stating it will work to prohibit menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and all characterizing flavors (including menthol) in cigars due to their harmful impacts.

MARIPOSA – This announcement significantly builds onto the tobacco control efforts in California particularly in regard to CA Senate Bill 793.

SB793 implementation would prohibit a tobacco retailer, or any of the tobacco retailer’s agents or employees, from selling, offering for sale, or possessing with the intent to sell or offer for sale, a flavored tobacco product or a tobacco product flavor enhancer (including menthol). Basically, SB793 would be enforced among retailers and/or their employees.

After decades of hard work, California has the second lowest statewide rate of smoking in the U.S., but there are still challenges.

Historically to recruit and maintain customers, tobacco companies have marketed menthol cigarettes in urban communities. Now more than half (54%) of youth ages 12-17 years who smoke use menthol cigarettes and the majority of African Americans who smoke use menthol cigarettes. The menthol restriction and potential enactment of SB793 can contribute to reducing these health disparities.

“We know menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars serve as an entry way for tobacco use in our children. Eliminating this will reduce the risk of long-term complications associated with tobacco use.” Dr. Eric Sergienko, Health Officer Mariposa County Health and Human Service Agency.

Smoking any kind of cigarette, including menthol cigarettes, is harmful and increases risk for serious illness and death.

Menthol, an additive in tobacco, masks the harsh taste of cigarette smoke, numbing the throat, allowing young and/or new smokers to inhale more nicotine and toxins.

Commercial tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death, disease, and disability in the United States with $13.26 billion annually attributed in direct health care costs (from commercial tobacco use) in California alone.

In August 2020 the SB793 was placed on pause after a referendum was filed, where now it will be placed on the November 2022 ballot for California voters to decide. In those 2 years, approximately 37,000 California youth will start vaping.

The Mariposa County Tobacco Education Program partners with schools, government, and community organizations to prevent tobacco use, initiation amongst youth, reduce exposures to second- and third-hand tobacco smoke, and assist with cessation resources. Program staff provide community workshops and presentations, along with technical assistance to support the implementation of tobacco prevention strategies known to have the greatest impact in reducing tobacco use.

For more information on smoking or vaping cessation resources visit: California Smokers Helpline | Free Help to Quit Smoking at nobutts.org or call the Mariposa County Public Health Branch at 209-966-3689 x2711

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