Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement on reports that the Biden administration will announce a ban on menthol-flavored tobacco products:
“Reports that the Biden administration plans to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes is a welcome development in our effort to ban all flavored cigarettes, cigars and vaping products.
“Flavored tobacco products, including menthol, are frequently marketed to young people and are often the entry point to a lifelong nicotine habit. Around half of young smokers have been found to use menthol-flavored products. The negative health effects of these products on youth are extensive.
“Menthol-flavored tobacco is also heavily marketed toward the African American community. Black health and civil rights groups point out that more than 85 percent of Black smokers use menthols – which have been found by experts to be more addictive – compared to just 29 percent of white smokers.
“Simply put, all flavored tobacco products need to be removed from the market. These products are often marketed to attract as many new users as possible and get them hooked on nicotine, disproportionately affecting youth and communities of color. I hope a ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes is just a first step toward banning all flavored tobacco products.”
Senator Feinstein has a long history of advocating to limit the use of flavored tobacco products and vaping products.
On April 16, Senator Feinstein joined Senator Edward J. Markey and others in calling on the FDA to act on a pending citizen petition requesting a ban on menthol cigarettes and cigars.
Senator Feinstein also authored a bill with Senator John Cornyn, the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, that became law in December 2020. The bill requires that e-cigarettes (flavored versions are often a gateway for children to start smoking) have the same safeguards already in place for traditional cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.
The bill requires online e-cigarette retailers to verify the age of customers for all purchases, require an adult with ID to be present for delivery, label shipping packages to show they contain tobacco products and comply with all state and local tobacco tax requirements.