- The move aimed at not just curbing smoking in the American population, but also “reducing tobacco-related health disparities”.
- As per the US government survey, nearly 85 percent of African Americans smoke menthol cigarettes, as opposed to 29 percent of White smokers.
- While some states in the US have already banned menthol cigarettes, the FDA plans to extend the prohibition countrywide.
- There has been an increase in tobacco use among American youth, driven mostly by e-cigarettes.
- The proposed ban issued by the US Food and Drug Administration(US FDA) does not cover electronic cigarettes.
- Apart from menthol, all other flavours in cigarettes were banned in the US in 2009.
What are menthol cigarettes?
- A menthol cigarette is a cigarette flavored with the compound menthol.
- They are constructed similarly to non-mentholated cigarettes, with menthol added at any of several stages during the manufacturing process.
- Menthol may be derived from distilled corn mint oil, or produced synthetically.
- While trace amounts of menthol may be added to non-mentholated cigarettes for flavour or other reasons, a menthol cigarette typically has at least 0.3% menthol content by weight.
- Menthol is a chemical naturally found in peppermint and other mint plants, but it can also be made in a lab.
- It was first added to tobacco in the 1920s and 1930s.
- The menthol, with its minty taste and aroma, reduces the irritation and harshness of smoking.
- This increases appeal and makes menthol cigarettes easier to use, particularly for youth and young adults.
- Menthol also interacts with nicotine in the brain to enhance nicotine’s addictive effects, while making it more difficult for people to quit smoking.
- Menthol cigarettes usually attract adolescents who initiate with a flavoured product, then switch to regular cigarettes.
- Menthol cigarettes were first developed by Lloyd “Spud” Hughes of Mingo Junction, Ohio, USA in 1924, though the idea did not become popular until the Axton-Fisher Tobacco Company acquired the patent in 1927, marketing them nationwide as “Spud Menthol Cooled Cigarettes”.
Ban in other countries-
- The first country in the world to ban menthol cigarettes was Brazil, in 2012.
- Canada banned these cigarettes in 2017, and the European Union in May 2020.
- Though the UK had left the EU by then, it too adopted the ban.
- Turkey, Moldova, and Ethiopia have also banned menthol cigarettes.
- India has not banned the sale of menthol cigarettes.
Scenario in India-
- In India chewing tobacco and bidi are the most common forms of tobacco use.
- India has 26.7 crore tobacco users aged 15 and above, as per the last available Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2016-17) — 18% of the population uses smokeless tobacco, 7% smoke, and 4% use both.
- Tobacco use among 15-24-year-olds has been reducing in India, from 18.4% in GATS-1 (2009-10) to 12.4% in GATs-2 (2016-17), a relative reduction of 33%.
- India has no official estimate on the number of people who use menthol or other flavoured cigarettes, but availability of various flavours has increased over the years.
Tobacco regulation laws in India-
- Tobacco regulation laws in India are covered under Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, or COTPA.
- It includes restrictions on advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products; prohibiting smoking in public places; prohibiting sale to and by minors; and prohibiting sale of tobacco products within a radius of 100 yards of educational institutions, and through mandatory depiction of specified pictorial health warnings on all tobacco product packs.
- In 2019, the Centre banned electronic cigarettes.
- In addition, different states have their own rules in place banning hookah consumption, including flavoured hookahs, in public places.
Further reading: https://journalsofindia.com/e-cigarette-or-vaping-devices/