The Food and Drug Administration will consider delimitating the use of menthol flavoring in cigarettes, the second move in a week by the agency to make smoking less delightful as part of an ambitious anti-tobacco push.
Along with menthol, the FDA is considering policies to keep kids from being enticed by tobacco products with flavors ranging from strawberry to chocolate to cotton candy. It published a notice online Tuesday seeking public input on regulations it plans to propose.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement, “We need to take every effort to prevent kids from getting hooked on nicotine.” Flavored products involve Phillies cigars and Swisher Sweets cigarillos as well as menthol cigarettes made by major tobacco companies including Altria Group Inc. and British American Tobacco.
About 18 percent of high school students reported using at least one flavored tobacco product in the past 30 days compared with 5.8 percent who used only nonflavored tobacco products founded a 2014 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The FDA had earlier analyzed menthol but stopped short of proposing a ban.
The fresh look at tobacco flavorings could go further though will also look at whether adding flavors to electronic cigarettes can help some adults quit regular, burned tobacco.
The FDA hopes to find a way to address flavored e-cigarettes “given both their clear appeal to youth but also the potential role certain flavors may play in helping some adult smokers transition to potentially less harmful tobacco products,” said Gottlieb.
U.S. law already precludes sales of tobacco products to minors and bans flavors aside from menthol in regular cigarettes.
The request for public input follows a similar request last week from the FDA on reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes, the first step in regulations that could make cigarettes less addictive. The public has 90 days to comment on questions the FDA embossed in the latest notice.