The FDA has put off finalizing a menthol ban for months, and the American Lung Association's latest annual State of Tobacco Control report says that delay means increased addiction, disease and death from tobacco products, especially among Black Americans.
More than 480,000 Americans die each year from tobacco use. The report grades states and federal lawmakers based on public health efforts to lower tobacco use, like regulation, taxes, and covering costs for medications and counseling to help people quit smoking.
The report finds that Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia were the worst. Forty-three states have no restrictions on flavored tobacco products.
Over 80% of those who use menthols are Black, according to the report.
"All menthol is a flavor. But more than that, menthol also reduces and suppresses cough and makes it easier for people to smoke a cigarette, so they don't get those consequences, those immediate physiologic consequences like cough," said Dr. Cedric "Jamie" Rutland, pulmonologist with the American Lung Association.
In terms of health, e-cigs, vapes, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, tobacco — any smoking products can damage far more than your lungs. Smoke can harm the arteries. It impacts the blood, kidneys and liver. It also raises the threat of blood clots, which can lead to stroke, heart attack or pulmonary embolism.
As far as the menthol ban, the latest from the FDA is to expect a finalized ruling in March.
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