FDA to propose the ban on menthol cigarettes

The FDA concluded in 2013 that mentoli are harder to quit and that they probably pose a greater health risk than regular cigarettes.

The FDA concluded in 2013 that mentoli are harder to quit and that they probably pose a greater health risk than regular cigarettes.

Photo:

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration does not just break up electronic cigarettes. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb also plans to ban menthol cigarettes, according to agency officials.

It may take a year or more for a rule that prohibits the menthol to be finalized, and then another year to be applicable on the market. But a menthol ban would be a blow to

British American Tobacco


BTI -4.40%

PLC, which sells the Newport cigarette brand in the United States

The American branch of BAT, Reynolds American, paid $ 25 billion in 2015 to acquire Lorillard Inc. and Newport, the leading menthol brand in the country. Last year Menthols accounted for 55% of BAT's US cigarette sales in volume and about 20% of rival

Altria Group
& # 39; S

MO -3.59%

sales of cigarettes, according to analyst Cowen Vivien Azer.

The FDA concluded in 2013 that mentoli are harder to quit and that they probably pose a greater health risk than regular cigarettes. The agency claimed that the use of cigarettes, which are flavored with the menthol compound, was probably associated with an increase in smoking habits by young and young adults, probably because menthol helps reduce throat irritation caused by cigarette smoking.

But it was not until last year that the agency reported that it was actively considering a ban on menthol and other flavored tobacco products. The tobacco industry rejected the FDA conclusions. The BAT did not respond to Friday's comment requests, and a spokesperson for Altria declined to comment.

It is expected that Dr. Gottlieb will announce strong restrictions on the sale of flavored flavored electronic cigarettes from the next week, effectively pulling them out of most grocery stores and service stations and demanding stringent age verification checks for online sales, according to senior agency officials. These actions are aimed at reversing the increase in vaping between children and adolescents. Electronic cigarette products in mint, menthol and tobacco flavorings will be allowed to remain in all retail outlets for now, but the flavors of mint and menthol may be limited later if the use of young people continues to increase , senior agency officials said.

FDA officials – who want to curb use among young people while encouraging smokers of adult cigarettes to switch to less harmful products such as electronic cigarettes – have decided not to limit the sales of e-cigarettes to mint and menthol because they did not want to create a situation that cigarettes were more attractive to smokers who prefer menthol, senior agency officials said.

Write to Jennifer Maloney at jennifer.maloney@wsj.com

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