Most in the US support a ban on all tobacco sales

By Janelle Chavez | Associated Press

According to a new study led by researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of US adults support ending the sale of all tobacco products, and nearly two-thirds said they support the sale of menthol cigarettes.

The poll, published Thursday in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, included 6,455 US adults who were surveyed in 2021 – before the US Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.

Although cigarette smoking has declined in recent decades, it remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the US, where an estimated 30.8 million adults currently smoke.

According to the survey, support for proposals to ban tobacco sales was lower among current tobacco users. More than a third of current smokers supported a ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes and more than a quarter supported a ban on all tobacco sales.

The FDA is still considering its proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.

“The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit smoking,” Xavier Becerra, Minister for Health and Human Services, said in a statement when the proposal was unveiled . “Furthermore, the proposed rules represent an important step in advancing health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities.”

In the new study, the researchers reported broad support for menthol ban across all demographic groups.

“Our findings are generally consistent with previous research showing support for menthol cigarette sales bans, including among populations historically affected by unfair marketing practices and with high prevalence of menthol cigarette use (e.g., non-Hispanic black adults) ‘ they wrote the study.

Experts say menthol — the last flavor approved in cigarettes — makes it easier to start and quit smoking. The additive can mask the pungency and irritation of tobacco, making cigarettes more attractive to young people and those who have never used tobacco products. It also increases the effects of nicotine in the brain, making tobacco products even more addictive.

Research has shown that tobacco products, particularly those containing menthol, are disproportionately marketed to youth, racial and ethnic minorities, people on low incomes and individuals who identify as LGBTQ+, all of whom are more likely to use these products and develop tobacco-related health problems.

“The science is clear: menthol cigarettes have adverse public health effects and have no public health benefits compared to non-menthol cigarettes,” Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said in a statement last year. “They increase the likelihood and degree of addiction among adolescent smokers and increase the number of premature tobacco-related deaths. Their removal from the market would have enormous public health benefits in this country.”

A study published in 2021 estimated that a ban on menthol cigarettes in the US as early as 2026 would lead to a 15% reduction in smoking and save up to 650,000 lives over 40 years.

Many parts of the country have started to move in this direction. As of February 2022, at least 145 US municipalities have banned the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored products. Beverly Hills and Manhattan Beach, California were the first cities to ban all tobacco sales.

The study’s authors say public support can continue to be an influential factor in accelerating policy adoption.

“These findings may support federal, state, and local efforts to ban the sale of all tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, reduce tobacco use and tobacco-related inequalities, and promote health equity.” Most in the US support a ban on all tobacco sales

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