© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Newport and Camel cigarettes are stacked on a shelf inside a tobacco store in New York
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration this week is expected to propose a ban on menthol cigarettes, a move backed by civil rights groups that say Black Americans are hurt by the industry’s aggressive targeting of the product, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
The administration will seek to ban menthol and other flavors in mass-produced cigars, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration faces a Thursday court deadline to respond to a 2013 citizen’s petition seeking a ban on menthols. Public health groups filed a lawsuit last year in federal district court in Northern California to require the FDA to respond to the petition.
The Post said it could be years before any ban would take effect, but the move would be praised by anti-smoking groups. Tobacco use remains a leading source of preventable illness and death in the country, particularly for people of color.
“There is not an open question on whether menthol in cigarettes is harmful – the evidence is overwhelming and consistent,” Joelle Lester, director of commercial tobacco control programs at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Minnesota, told the Post.
The law center led a group of 19 public health organizations to file the 2013 petition.
The FDA was not immediately available for comment on the report.
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