By WECT Staff | January 25, 2021 at 4:55 AM EST – Updated January 25 at 6:37 AM
RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – Attorney General Josh Stein is calling for the FDA to ban menthol cigarettes citing public health, a desire to decrease smoking in young people, and reducing harm to minority communities.
“Menthol cigarettes are designed to be easier to smoke,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “That means they make it easier to get hooked. What’s more, they’re marketed in ways that disproportionately harm young people and people of color. I urge the FDA to ban menthol cigarettes and help us prevent another generation of North Carolinians from become addicted to nicotine and suffering the consequences in years to come,” Stein said in a press release.
Stein, along with 23 other attorneys general, sent a letter to the FDA asking them to implement the regulations immediately.
“Despite the overall decline in non-menthol smoking, the prevalence of menthol smoking has remained constant in recent years and disproportionately impacts youth and communities of color. The attorneys general state that menthol cigarettes remain a major barrier to smoking cessation and the reduction of smoking-related health conditions,” the press release states.
Research shows menthol cigarettes are associated with increased smoking in youths and young adults and have a higher chance of leading to regular smoking habits.
“In 2019, an estimated 46.7 percent of middle and high school-aged smokers used menthol cigarettes, but menthol cigarette smoking is even higher among African American youth. Data also shows that 89 percent of all African American smokers smoke menthol cigarettes compared to 26 percent of white smokers,” according to the release.
This is not the first time Stein has gone after companies in an effort to prevent youths from becoming addicted to nicotine.
“He filed the first state lawsuit against e-cigarette manufacturer Juul in May 2019 for aggressively marketing their products to young people and misrepresenting the dangers of the nicotine in e-cigarettes. He also filed lawsuits against eight additional e-cigarette companies in August 2019 for aggressively targeting children and lax age verification processes. The courts barred most of these companies from selling any e-cigarette products in North Carolina for the duration of the lawsuits,” according to the release.
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