Biden Administration Moving Forward With Ban On Menthol Cigarettes

After consideration beginning in April 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving forward with plans to ban menthol cigarettes.

The FDA announced on January 28 that it would issue two proposed rules, one prohibiting menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and another prohibiting all characterizing flavors (including menthol) in cigars—by spring.

The FDA will have a public comment period and will evaluate comments and recommendations from stakeholders. Then, the FDA could “proceed to issue final product standards, which would become enforceable once in effect.”

EMA is concerned that such drastic measures could detrimentally impact small business retail fuel outlets who depend on the sale of tobacco products.

Menthol cigarettes make up some 35 percent of overall cigarette sales, and in some regions or parts of communities, much more.

Cigarette customers often end up purchasing other products which spurs economic activity, provides much-needed jobs, and supports local communities.

Further compounding this economic challenge is the near certainty that menthol cigarette bans would further the already intense competition small businesses face from the illicit marketing of tobacco products.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine have estimated that illicit marketing already accounts for up to 1 in 5 cigarettes sold in the United States.

Research has also found that a substantial percentage and perhaps the bulk of menthol cigarette sales would simply move to this black market in the event of a ban, further increasing competition with legitimate sources.

The bottom line is that small business retail fuel retailers undertake significant efforts to train their employees how to not sell tobacco products to underage youth, efforts that contraband sellers will not make.

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