Proposed Menthol Cigarette Ban: A Slippery Slope to Banning Flavored Nicotine Products
In an op-ed in Houston Daily, Nicokick’s Head of Communications, Markus Lindblad, discusses the unfortunate consequences of the FDA`s announced plans to ban sales of menthol cigarettes.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration recently issued a proposal to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars – policies that according to agency officials could help prevent some of the roughly five hundred thousand deaths linked to smoking each year.
But the consequences of the proposed ban are a matter of active debate.
Assuming a federal ban is finalized, it would be the most aggressive action taken by the FDA – “kicking off a slippery slope to banning other flavored nicotine products such as nicotine pouches and gum”, according to Lindblad.
Prohibition is not the answer – harm reduction is
As the government’s policies are meant to produce better health care outcomes, Lindblad asks that Food and Drug Commissioner Robert Califf as well as states looking to pass bills regarding tobacco and nicotine products, adopt harm reduction policies. In essence, a harm reduction approach would involve providing smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit smoking with less harmful nicotine products.
Tobacco-free nicotine pouches and other oral nicotine products also have added potential of producing “accidental quitters”. That is, smokers who are experimenting with an alternative nicotine product for other reasons than to quit smoking but end up quitting smoking as a result of this experimentation.
Furthermore, Lindblad touches upon the importance of acknowledging the role of flavors in harm reduction. Imposing bans on flavored tobacco products can lead to unintended public health consequences, as science shows that flavors are critical to attracting smokers who want to quit. According to Nicokick’s consumer data for 2020, 59 percent of those who regularly use nicotine pouches were smokers who have quit - and fruity flavored products were the most popular choice for former smokers.
“There are 3.14 million Texans who smoke cigarettes, which is nearly 10 percent of the entire adult smoking population in the United States. The most effective way to help these smokers transition to a healthier lifestyle is for both the FDA and our state leaders to prioritize tobacco-harm reduction products, which includes flavored products that will produce better health outcomes for millions of Texans.”
Read the full article here.