FDA pledges action to save lives and prevent future generations of smokers – Macomb Daily

Menthol cigarettes go out.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week that it publishes proposed standards next year to ban menthol as a flavor in cigarettes and ban all characteristic flavors (including menthol) in cigars, prompted by reports showing the addiction and harm these products have on Americans, Blacks and teenagers in particular.

“This is a big step in the right direction, which we no doubt support for Macomb County residents and the general public,” said Andrew Cox, Macomb County Health Department Director/Health Officer. “I certainly hope he gets the support he needs because we know he will be very important in people with lung disease, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

In addition to the science that has linked smoking to these diseases, recent research from Canada, which banned menthol cigarettes in 2017, estimates that a similar decision in the United States would lead to around 923,000 smokers quitting, including 230,000 African Americans who are among the biggest fans. menthol cigarettes.

It is estimated that nearly 18.6 million Americans smoke menthol cigarettes, but the use of menthol cigarettes is not uniform: of all black smokers, nearly 85% smoke menthol cigarettes compared to 30% of smokers white, according to the FDA.

Menthol cigarettes, due to their aroma, have the ability to mask the harsh taste of cigarettes, which is also why it is a popular choice among teenagers, but marketing strategies are also a factor.

“In the 1950s, the tobacco industry realized it had an opportunity to gain market share in the African-American population,” said Chelsea Wuth, spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. of Michigan (MDHHS). “At the time, about 5% of African American smokers used menthol cigarettes; with the use of African American models, celebrities, and images that appeal to African Americans, programs to distribute menthol cigarettes in African American communities, price discounts, and more retail space dedicated to tobacco products”, cigarette smoking among blacks has increased.

As a result, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death among black people, claiming 45,000 lives each year.

“We know that African Americans suffer from worse health problems when it comes to heart disease, lung cancer and strokes and smoking is directly linked to these diseases. Since menthol is a choice among black people who smoke, it is hoped that it will reduce their risk of contracting these diseases,” said Dr. Asha Shajahan of Roseville, director of community health at Beaumont Grosse Pointe Hospital.

According to US Newsa report following Canada’s ban using wholesale data provided by manufacturers to Canada’s National Institute of Health between 2010 and 2018, found that overall cigarette sales fell by 4.6 % (after the ban) compared to the previous year.

Preventing future generations from smoking is one of the objectives of the ban.

“I would say a majority of the patients I’ve treated for smoking-related conditions have said they wish they had never started,” said Shelly Schendel, pulmonologist and critical care physician at McLaren Macomb.

“As young adults, you’re invisible and not really aware or concerned about the repercussions of starting something,” Schendel added. “I think anything we can do that is preventable is important and it will stop people from starting to smoke.”

Opponents of the menthol ban argue it will subject black people to more abuse from law enforcement.

“That’s wrong,” said Minou Jones, CEO of Making It Count Community Development Corporation and president of the Detroit Wayne Oakland Tobacco Coalition. “The FDA has made it clear that its ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars will apply to manufacturers and retailers. It will not make it illegal for individuals to possess or use these products. This is how the FDA enforced the current ban on other flavored cigarettes and on the sale of tobacco products to minors.

Jones said the FDA banning menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigarettes is long overdue.

“I lost my grandmother and an aunt far too soon to their addiction to menthol cigarettes. And my father, a former menthol smoker, is battling emphysema and COPD today,” Jones said. “My family is just one of millions of black families who go through this every day. This is our story. It doesn’t have to be our future. Banning menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars will save lives.

For adults, from 2019, the latest available data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 21.9% of black people in Michigan said they currently smoke cigarettes, more than 7% higher than the US rate of 14.8%. About 17.8% of all white adults in the state said they currently smoke cigarettes.

For children, in 2017, according to the latest available data from the CDC, 2.7% of black people in Michigan said they currently smoke cigarettes, which was lower than the US rate of 4.4%. That compares to 12% of white children in Michigan who reported smoking.

The FDA said phasing out menthol cigarettes could prevent between 300,000 and 650,000 smoking deaths over 40 years, but the latest decision to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars are only initial plans and are unlikely to be finalized until next year. Companies would then have an additional year to phase out their products.

The ban is also likely to be delayed by industry lawsuits.

For now, FDA officials said they would take comments for two months and then proceed “as quickly as possible.”

The recent proposals would not apply to e-cigarettes, including major brands like Juul and Vuse, which are available in menthol, but the FDA conducted a separate review of those products.

Health experts, while applauding the ban, say it is essential to ensure smokers know how to access help to end their nicotine addiction.

“Investing in the complete prevention and cessation of commercial smoking is one of the most effective steps Michigan can take to reduce tobacco use and tobacco-related disease. For every dollar spent on tobacco prevention, Michigan can reduce tobacco-related healthcare costs and hospitalizations by up to $55,” Wuth said.

Compared to other states, Michigan ranks 46th in public funding for smoking prevention and cessation. Wuth said many other states receive funding from the master tobacco settlement agreement or tobacco taxes, but Michigan’s tobacco control program receives no funding from the agreement and has received less. 0.2% of tobacco tax revenue in fiscal year 2021.


Many Macomb County smoking cessation programs that help smokers quit were suspended during the pandemic, but are back in operation.

Classes typically consist of eight sessions, which take place over several weeks, with attendance required for all sessions.

Topics include:

  • Lifestyle changes that make quitting easier
  • How to Prepare for Quit Day
  • Manage stress and avoid weight gain
  • Stay smoke-free for good!

For a complete listing of programs and resources, visit the Macomb County Health Department Tobacco Prevention link at smokingprevention.macombgov.org/TobaccoPrevention-QuitResources or call 586-469-5235.

Oakland Press writer Mark Cavitt and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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