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FDA Issues Proposed Rules to Remove Menthol from Cigarettes and Flavors from Cigars

This week the Food and Drug Administration issued proposed rules to remove menthol characterizing flavors from cigarettes and all characterizing flavors – other than tobacco flavor – from cigars. When fully implemented, these rules have the potential to significantly reduce youth tobacco initiation, increase quit attempts by those using tobacco products, and reduce Big Tobacco’s ability to target their products to kids and other vulnerable communities.


The ATS supports the proposed rules and issued the follow statement: “The ATS strongly supports the FDA proposed action to remove menthol-flavored cigarettes and flavored cigars from the U.S. marketplace,” said Hasmeena Kathuria, MD, ATS Tobacco Action Committee vice-chair, speaking on behalf of the ATS. “Our only regret is that it has taken the FDA so long to initiate this essential rule to protect America’s youth and minority populations from flavored tobacco products. The science is clear that the presence of menthol and other flavors in tobacco products increase youth tobacco initiation. Menthol in cigarettes also makes it harder to quit smoking. 


Internal industry documents show that Big Tobacco has long known that flavored tobacco products lure kids into tobacco addiction. In addition, Big Tobacco intentionally marketed menthol cigarettes to minority communities. “When fully implemented, the FDA’s proposed rules will save lives, improve health equity, and help break the cycle of tobacco addiction.”


One important note on the cigar front, the proposed rule does not make an exemption or special rules for flavors in “premium cigars,” cigars that are hand rolled, use only leaf tobacco and are generally more expensive than mass-produced cigars.

The FDA has announced that it will hold public hearings on June 13 and June 15 to collect community input on the proposed rules. The public will have an opportunity to submit comments to the ruling through July 2022. The FDA’s final rules on menthol and flavored cigars are not expected for several months. The ATS will participate in the public hearings and submit official comments on the proposed rules.

Last Reviewed: June 2022