Navigating the Delay: Menthol Cigarette Ban Decision Now Expected 2024

January 11th, 2024

In a recent development, the long-awaited FDA ban on menthol cigarettes, initially set to take effect in 2023, has been delayed until 2024. This postponement has public health groups concerned over the potential impact on efforts to reduce tobacco-related harm.

About the Proposed Ban and Delay

The menthol cigarette ban has been in process for over a decade. It seeks to ban the use of menthol as a characterizing flavor. The minty flavor makes the cigarette smoke feel cool and less harsh when inhaled. 

Although the industry portrays these products as smoother, healthier alternatives to unflavored tobacco products, menthol cigarettes have terrible health effects. They can be more tempting for kids because they mask the harsh taste and sensation of tobacco smoke, thereby making it easier to inhale the smoke.1

Smoking menthol cigarettes can also make it easier for people to become addicted to smoking and can be worse for your body than regular cigarettes.2 

Tobacco companies, which have a long history of exploiting marginalized communities, have targeted Black individuals through the marketing of menthol products. This targeted marketing has contributed to disproportionately high rates of menthol cigarette use among Black individuals, leading to severe health consequences like heart disease and diabetes. 

Such practices exploit certain populations, contribute to health disparities, and reinforce systemic inequalities. Efforts to address these issues have included advocacy for menthol bans and increased awareness of the industry’s historical and ongoing impact on public health within these communities.

“Removing these products from the market is backed by strong scientific evidence and hundreds of thousands of public comments from the public health community nationwide,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer for the American Heart Association. “The administration should not delay further in putting these rules into effect.”

Support for Menthol Users

Tobacco Free Colorado and the Colorado QuitLine is ready now to provide support to people who want to quit menthol cigarettes and other tobacco products. 

People who enroll through the QuitLine are eligible to receive an extra eight weeks of FREE nicotine replacement products in the form of patches, gum, or lozenges. This equals 12 weeks of free products for web enrollees and 16 weeks of free products for individuals who work with coaches over the phone. This extended support aims to address the unique challenges associated with menthol addiction.

Furthermore, enrollees can receive up to $50 in gift cards for participating in phone coaching calls. The incentive structure includes $10 for the first call, $15 for the second call, and $25 upon completing the third coaching call. This initiative provides practical support for those seeking to quit menthol products and acknowledges the effort and commitment people put into their quit journey.

While the delay in the menthol cigarette ban may be disappointing to some, it offers an opportunity to reinforce efforts in supporting those on their journey to quit. By taking advantage of the available resources, people can better prepare for the potential ban and work towards a tobacco-free future.

1. Cwalina, S. N., Majmundar, A., Unger, J. B., Barrington-Trimis, J. L., & Pentz, M. A. (2020). Adolescent menthol cigarette use and risk of nicotine dependence: Findings from the national Population Assessment on Tobacco and Health (PATH) study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 206, 107715.
2. Association, American Lung. “The Science behind the Addictiveness of Menthol.”