15 votes

FDA to propose ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes, with industry likely to challenge

23 comments

  1. [14]
    Amarok
    Link
    Let's ban menthol cough drops next. Makes just about as much sense. The correct way to do this is to ban all forms of additives, period. You get tobacco in your smoking products, and nothing else.

    Let's ban menthol cough drops next. Makes just about as much sense.

    The correct way to do this is to ban all forms of additives, period. You get tobacco in your smoking products, and nothing else.

    14 votes
    1. [7]
      petrichor
      Link Parent
      Why, what's the harm in menthol cough drops? How are they different than say, weed or sugar?

      Why, what's the harm in menthol cough drops? How are they different than say, weed or sugar?

      5 votes
      1. [6]
        vord
        Link Parent
        I think what @Armarok is getting at is that banning menthol cigarettes is arbitrary, dumb, and has some rascist undertones to boot. The only acceptable flavor of ice cream is vanilla, all others...

        I think what @Armarok is getting at is that banning menthol cigarettes is arbitrary, dumb, and has some rascist undertones to boot.

        The only acceptable flavor of ice cream is vanilla, all others are banned. Sounds pretty dumb right?

        It was just as dumb when other flavors (and cloves!) were banned.

        6 votes
        1. [5]
          petrichor
          Link Parent
          Menthol is the last allowable flavor, so it's really a complete ban on flavored cigarettes. Banning flavored cigarettes seems to make sense - given that they're more addictive and equally as...

          Menthol is the last allowable flavor, so it's really a complete ban on flavored cigarettes.

          Banning flavored cigarettes seems to make sense - given that they're more addictive and equally as harmful as normal cigarettes.

          I don't see how it has racist undertones. Quite the opposite, no?

          8 votes
          1. [4]
            vord
            Link Parent
            It is the last allowed yes, but if you look up smoking rates over time, banning flavors didn't really make an impact. The downward trajectory has been the same for decades now. It's nothing more...

            It is the last allowed yes, but if you look up smoking rates over time, banning flavors didn't really make an impact. The downward trajectory has been the same for decades now. It's nothing more than political posturing.

            You want real impact? Ban the display of cigarettes for sale. Put them under the counter and have a black and white price list page for customers to ask for.

            To continue my terrible ice cream metaphor to explain the undertones:

            White people prefer vanilla. Brown people prefer chocolate. All ice cream is unhealthy, so we're going to ban chocolate now. Maybe someday a few decades from now we'll ban vanilla.

            3 votes
            1. rogue_cricket
              Link Parent
              This is how it works where I am from, where we've actually done both. The display of cigarettes for sale was restricted in 2008, and all flavoured cigarettes were banned in 2016. (I don't smoke or...

              Ban the display of cigarettes for sale. Put them under the counter and have a black and white price list page for customers to ask for.

              This is how it works where I am from, where we've actually done both. The display of cigarettes for sale was restricted in 2008, and all flavoured cigarettes were banned in 2016. (I don't smoke or anything - had to look those dates up). It's still hard to tell if either had a particular impact, though, because like you said, smoking has been on a steady decline in my area since at least 1999 (and honestly probably further back to the 60s). I imagine most of the impact comes from people who would have otherwise started smoking not doing so, rather than people quitting, which would not be as easy to quantify.

              I (early 30s) also remember some really aggressive awareness campaigns from when I was a kid. For example, this was run on YTV, a Canadian channel for children. Those spooky PSAs had a big impact on me, to the point I'd steal and hide my dad's cigarettes, and Canada has been producing PSAs like that since the 70s.

              My dad still smokes, but at this point I've only met a handful of people my age who do. In fact, I think I know more people who have quit smoking than who still smoke, which is great given how notoriously difficult it is to quit. So I think the public health ads were impactful.

              2 votes
            2. Amarok
              Link Parent
              I'm on board with that solution.

              Ban the display of cigarettes for sale. Put them under the counter and have a black and white price list page for customers to ask for.

              I'm on board with that solution.

              2 votes
            3. petrichor
              Link Parent
              Ah, I see, I misunderstood your metaphor and didn't realize vanilla was corresponding to unflavoured cigarettes. I agree entirely.

              Ah, I see, I misunderstood your metaphor and didn't realize vanilla was corresponding to unflavoured cigarettes. I agree entirely.

              1 vote
    2. [6]
      Wulfsta
      Link Parent
      I do understand where you’re coming from, but I think there is an interesting point here regarding (I don’t have an offhand source here, but will look for one if I have time) positive correlation...

      I do understand where you’re coming from, but I think there is an interesting point here regarding (I don’t have an offhand source here, but will look for one if I have time) positive correlation between nicotine addiction and menthol. To my recollection menthol increases the addictive properties of nicotine, and banning the combination would likely reduce the rate of new smokers.

      1 vote
      1. [5]
        pycrust
        Link Parent
        Found it: "The mint flavor of menthol cools the throat and makes it easier for smokers to tolerate the flavor of tobacco."

        Found it: "The mint flavor of menthol cools the throat and makes it easier for smokers to tolerate the flavor of tobacco."

        1 vote
        1. [3]
          vord
          Link Parent
          Yes, but the reality is that it's entirely personal preference. I know just as many people who hate menthols as menthol lovers who hate regular. It's really what you were exposed to first. If...

          Yes, but the reality is that it's entirely personal preference. I know just as many people who hate menthols as menthol lovers who hate regular.

          It's really what you were exposed to first. If menthols were genuinely more addictive, then why do black people smoke fewer cigarettes and start later in life than white people? Why do black and white people have nearly identical percentages of smokers?

          If menthols were more addictive, it would follow that the ethnicities that prefer those cigarettes would have higher and more frequent users.

          2 votes
          1. Wes
            Link Parent
            While perhaps not an argument for being more addictive, that does suggest that menthols make smoking accessible to more people.

            I know just as many people who hate menthols as menthol lovers who hate regular.

            While perhaps not an argument for being more addictive, that does suggest that menthols make smoking accessible to more people.

            2 votes
          2. pycrust
            Link Parent
            interesting data for sure. I'll take a look later today.

            interesting data for sure. I'll take a look later today.

        2. Wulfsta
          Link Parent
          What I meant was: I believe I have seen research implying that menthol changes how nicotine is metabolized, and through some complicated interaction might make it easier to become addicted. It...

          What I meant was: I believe I have seen research implying that menthol changes how nicotine is metabolized, and through some complicated interaction might make it easier to become addicted. It would at least not surprise me if there were deeper reasons than a cooling sensation.

          1 vote
  2. [6]
    pycrust
    Link
    I'm torn on this. On one hand, it makes sense to ban flavored cigs b/c menthol eases the pain of smoking. On the other hand, it feels extremely symbolic, especially considering that it was done...

    I'm torn on this. On one hand, it makes sense to ban flavored cigs b/c menthol eases the pain of smoking. On the other hand, it feels extremely symbolic, especially considering that it was done ostensibly to look out for black people. Meaning, if the admin wanted to boost the health outcomes of black people in the US, why not improve healthcare, education, inequality of opportunity?

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      psi
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      All of those things would be ideal, but they're also orders of magnitude harder to achieve; substantial changes in those categories would require the action of Congress, too, not just the actions...

      Meaning, if the admin wanted to boost the health outcomes of black people in the US, why not improve healthcare, education, inequality of opportunity?

      All of those things would be ideal, but they're also orders of magnitude harder to achieve; substantial changes in those categories would require the action of Congress, too, not just the actions of this administration. In contrast, this rule change can be implemented entirely through the executive branch.

      I don't see this proposal as Why is Admin fixing X instead of Y? I see this as X is fixable. Why wouldn't Admin fix X?

      14 votes
      1. pycrust
        Link Parent
        That's a good point. I think you could chip away at that stuff with some executive actions, eg: cancelling student debt, police reform, etc. In any case, the way you put it makes a lot more sense!...

        That's a good point. I think you could chip away at that stuff with some executive actions, eg: cancelling student debt, police reform, etc.

        In any case, the way you put it makes a lot more sense! Also, much more positive!

        1 vote
    2. [3]
      Shahriar
      Link Parent
      Use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed, especially in youth, thanks to increasing market popularity from brands like Juul using aggressive marketing targeted towards certain demographics with popular...

      On the other hand, it feels extremely symbolic, especially considering that it was done ostensibly to look out for black people.

      Use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed, especially in youth, thanks to increasing market popularity from brands like Juul using aggressive marketing targeted towards certain demographics with popular flavours. I don't believe this is a symbolic move towards the black demographic of America, more so, a reactive move to minimize any further impacts on the healthcare system and the longevity of those who have been marketed these products.

      6 votes
      1. [3]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. [2]
          krg
          Link Parent
          E-cigarettes and e-liquids are considered tobacco products and the ban on flavors in tobacco products (including menthol) was spurred by a supposed youth vaping epidemic. That said, I don't think...

          Non-sequitur aside, since this ban has nothing to do with vaping or e-liquid flavors, and only affects "tobacco products" like cigarettes and cigars, as far as I can tell...

          E-cigarettes and e-liquids are considered tobacco products and the ban on flavors in tobacco products (including menthol) was spurred by a supposed youth vaping epidemic. That said, I don't think their really is much of a youth vaping epidemic. Or, not nearly as worrisome as media made it out to be. Though youth vaping was (still is?) on the rise, most youth who took up vaping were already using other tobacco products, and most who do vape don't vape regularly.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. Amarok
              Link Parent
              In the US, the 'tobacco product' is the category all the regs apply to, and the FDA did indeed lump e-cigs into it around '09. Considering the larger players in the tobacco industry have also...

              In the US, the 'tobacco product' is the category all the regs apply to, and the FDA did indeed lump e-cigs into it around '09. Considering the larger players in the tobacco industry have also become the larger players in the e-cig industry it makes some sense to regulate them together.

              People who want the fancy liquids can still get them. Bottles of VG/PG are cheap at the pharmacy, and one can order all sorts of flavorings and mix one's own. I'd expect this sort of ban only to apply to what can be sold over the counter at your local head shop or gas station ready for consumption - packaged liquids, tobacco, cartridges, etc.

              3 votes
  3. [3]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    Seems like we should just ban tobacco

    Seems like we should just ban tobacco

    6 votes
    1. nukeman
      Link Parent
      I think there’d be some personal liberties issues with banning the sale of tobacco, not to mention the concerns with minorities being harassed for “illegally selling cigarettes”. I’m okay with...

      I think there’d be some personal liberties issues with banning the sale of tobacco, not to mention the concerns with minorities being harassed for “illegally selling cigarettes”. I’m okay with further restricting public smoking, however.

      My hot take: Nationalize the tobacco industry, distribute via tobacconist shops, only manufacture a limited assortment of tobacco products (e.g., cigarettes would only contain paper, tobacco, and certain whole plant flavorings, like mint leaves instead of menthol or cloves instead of clove flavor), along with rolling paper and leaf tobacco. Ban all smoking in public (except for smoking lounges with specified ventilation and containment) and while driving.

      9 votes
    2. culturedleftfoot
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Rather, ban nicotine in tobacco products (and all the other crap that goes into cigs, like @Amarok said). If cigarettes and smoking were a totally new product/activity introduced today, it would...

      Rather, ban nicotine in tobacco products (and all the other crap that goes into cigs, like @Amarok said). If cigarettes and smoking were a totally new product/activity introduced today, it would probably have some adoption as a curiosity but any disclosure of all the non-tobacco ingredients that go into it would make the whole thing look entirely ridiculous.

      6 votes