U. S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, has announced that the FDA will immediately ban the sale of most flavors of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), commonly referred to as e-cigarettes, with the exception of tobacco and mint and menthol flavors. Menthol and mint flavored are not included in the ban because menthol flavored combustible cigarettes will still be available for purchase by adults, and the FDA does not want to remove an incentive for adults trying to move away from combustible cigarettes to a less dangerous alternative. “I don’t want to create a situation where the combustible products have features that make them more attractive than the non-combustible products. Or a situation where those who currently use menthol-flavored cigarettes might find it less attractive to switch completely to an e-cigarette. This is a difficult compromise that I’m trying to strike, recognizing the public health risk posed by cigarettes still being available in menthol flavor&rdauo;.
Commissioner Gottlieb stated the FDA’s intention to ultimately remove menthol flavored cigarettes from the markte, but noted that the process of doing so is much lengthier. “I believe these menthol-flavored products represent one of the most common and pernicious routes by which kids initiate on combustible cigarettes. The menthol serves to mask some of the unattractive features of smoking that might otherwise discourage a child from smoking. Moreover, I believe that menthol products disproportionately and adversely affect underserved communities,”, he said. “And, unlike menthol-flavored ENDS, there’s no evidence to suggest that menthol-flavored cigarettes may play a role in harm reduction for adult smokers”. The FDA intends to “advance a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would seek to ban menthol in combustible tobacco products, including cigarettes and cigars.”
Read FDA Commissioner Gottlieb’s full statement here.