On April 28th, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a new tobacco product standard that would prohibit the use of menthol as a “characterizing flavor” in cigarettes and cigarette-related products (including filters and wrappers). This is a significant step forward in the fight against tobacco-related death and disease, as menthol cigarettes result in higher rates of smoking initiation and addiction. Public comments on the proposal are open until August 2nd, 2022.


In 2009, the Tobacco Control Act banned all characterizing flavors of cigarettes, except for menthol and tobacco. This law was intended to protect youth smokers who may have otherwise never tried cigarettes if not for the variety of flavors. While the Tobacco Control Act saw some measure of improvement regarding consumption reduction, more still could be done.

The Dangers of Menthol

Menthol cigarettes have long been marketed as a “cool” and “refreshing” alternative to regular cigarettes, but the truth is that they are even more dangerous than other tobacco products. Menthol cigarettes increase the addictiveness of cigarettes, which means that the health risks of cigarettes are more likely to occur, including:

  • An increased risk of cancer.
  • An increased risk of lung disease.
  • An increased risk of heart disease.

Menthol cigarettes get their distinctive flavor from the addition of menthol, a minty compound that is also used in some cough syrups and cold remedies. Menthol has a cooling and numbing effect when inhaled, which makes it easier for people to start smoking and become addicted. Menthol acts as an anesthetic that allows the addictive cigarette smoke to easily penetrate deep into the lungs where nicotine is rapidly moved into the bloodstream.

What is this Proposal Designed to Do?

In the ongoing challenge to combat tobacco as the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, the FDA’s new proposal to ban menthol flavoring seeks to accomplish two objectives: reduce the appeal of cigarettes and improve health by reducing the risk of tobacco-related fatalities.

Reduce Appeal

Currently, 18.5 million Americans aged 12 years and older engage in smoking menthol-flavored cigarettes, with a disproportionate number of users being youth and vulnerable populations like African Americans and other ethnic and racial groups.

The action of banning menthol flavoring is being taken in an effort to decrease the number of people who start smoking and to encourage current smokers to quit. Menthol cigarettes are especially popular among young people and African Americans, two groups that have been historically and disproportionately affected by tobacco-related illnesses and menthol marketing.

Reduce Mortality Risk

By banning menthol as a characterizing flavor, the FDA is seeking to reduce the risk of tobacco-related fatalities by 15.1 percent over the next 40 years after implementation. Studies have shown that as many as 654,000 deaths could be prevented in those 40 years, with as many as 238,000 of those deaths being African Americans.

When and How Will the FDA Enforce This?

The FDA proposes that any final rulings based on their proposal take effect 1 year after the publication of that ruling.

This enforcement will directly impact “manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers.” After one year of the proposed standard being in effect, any of the above entities found failing to comply may be subject to penalties, tobacco sale restrictions and criminal prosecution.

Menthol Cigarette Lawsuits with Levy Konigsberg

If you or a loved one suffer from a tobacco-related illness, you may be entitled to compensation. The law firm of Levy Konigsberg has over three decades of experience fighting for the rights of victims of dangerous products, and we have a proven track record of success. Our team of experienced litigators has won billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients, and we are dedicated to getting justice for those who have been harmed by the tobacco industry.

Call us today at (800) 315-3806 or fill out our form online to schedule a free initial consultation.


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