New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a proposal to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, a move aimed at curbing smoking in the American population, but also reducing tobacco-related health disparities. However, the proposal is yet to be finalized and is in the proposal stage. It should be noted that it was the Joe Biden administration that first proposed the ban in 2021.

Why the ban?

In 2019, there were 18.5 million menthol cigarette smokers aged 12 and older in the US, according to the FDA. Rates of menthol cigarette use were higher among young people and in Black communities. Furthermore, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), menthol in cigarettes is believed to make the absorption of harmful chemicals from the cigarette easier because menthol smoke is easier to inhale. Smoking is still the primary cause of preventable death, disease, and disability in the US. In general, cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the US, including more than 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke.

Impact of the ban

The FDA said that the ban on menthol cigarettes, once implemented, would lead to a 15 percent reduction in smoking over 40 years. The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit. Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advancing health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities. It will save lives, especially in Black and brown communities in the United States, and will reduce youth smoking.

Will the ban reduce smoking in India?

India has 26.7 crore tobacco users aged 15 and above, as per the last available Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2016-17) i.e. 18 percent of the Indian population use smokeless tobacco, 7 percent smoke, and 4 percent use both, as per a report by The Indian Express.

"Even among smokers, the impact of such a step would only be on young adults and women who are just starting to smoke. Apart from giving tobacco a pleasant flavor, menthol reduces the harshness, irritation, and somewhat the smell, making it appealing to those who have just started smoking or those who need to hide the smell from their family members,” Dr. SK Arora, a chest physician, a former head of Delhi’s Tobacco Control Cell was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

However, he added that once a person continues smoking for two weeks to a month, the flavor is of no consequence as they will just continue smoking regular cigarettes.

Meanwhile, India has no official estimate on the number of people who use menthol or other flavored cigarettes, but the availability of various flavours has increased over the years.

Posted By: Sugandha Jha