WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Alliance for Hispanic Health (NAHH), a Hispanic health advocacy group in the United States, is calling on the FDA to ban menthol and all flavored cigars. These products are believed to have been deliberately targeted at youth and Hispanic communities in order to lure in new generations of smokers. The FDA has made moves recently to prohibit menthol in cigarettes, and the NAHH is urging them to finalize this rule swiftly and enact a 90-day implementation period.
In a statement released yesterday, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health applauded the FDA for proposing bans on menthol in cigarettes and flavorings in cigars. However, the NAHH emphasized that these moves do not go far enough to protect public health. In particular, they believe the FDA should also ban all flavored e-cigarettes and other flavored disposable products. According to Dr. Delgado, NAHH’s president and CEO, these products are being developed as replacements for cigarettes and will likely appeal to young people. By taking action on all fronts, the FDA can help to reduce the appeal of tobacco products and reduce the risks of smoking-related diseases.
The Alliance pointed to 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data that 51% of Hispanic smokers ages 12 and older used menthol cigarettes and the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey showing that 50.8% of Hispanic middle and high school students who were current smokers reported smoking menthol cigarettes. Furthermore, in 2020, cigars were the second most popular tobacco product among youth after e-cigarettes, with 960,000 middle and high school students currently using cigars. It is argued that flavored cigars are often more appealing to young people than non-flavored options, making them more likely to start smoking. The FDA has taken some steps to regulate cigars, including banning certain flavorings. The NAHH is asking the FDA to extend its flavor ban to all cigars, not just those sold in stores, and to implement a menthol ban in cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Taking these steps would reportedly help reduce the number of young people who start smoking each year and save lives.
Dr. Delgado’s words echo the sentiments of many health professionals and concerned citizens. Tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and menthol cigars are considered a particularly deadly type of tobacco product. There is strong public support for banning menthol cigars, especially in Hispanic communities. The FDA should finalize the proposed rules and implement them within 90 days. Moving forward, NAHH states that the FDA should expand its action and end the sale of all flavored tobacco and synthetic nicotine products, to protect the health of the Nation.
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