ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Food and Drug Administration closed its comment period earlier this month on the agency’s two proposed tobacco product standards that would prohibit menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and prohibit all flavors other than tobacco in cigars.
The agency received nearly 250,000 comments on these two proposed rules combined, including about 175,000 for the menthol cigarettes proposed rule and about 71,000 for the flavored cigars proposed rule.
“FDA appreciates the public’s active engagement in the rulemaking process, and has already begun to review the comments, scientific data, expert opinions, and facts that have been submitted. FDA is committed to completing the rulemaking process as quickly as possible; however, the agency will need ample time to comprehensively review and analyze all of the comments,” wrote the FDA in a statement.
“NACS believes that adopting these regulations that ban two of the most popular tobacco products in the U.S. will push a portion of current smokers to the illicit market and severely injure the convenience store industry,” wrote NACS in its comments to the FDA on the ban. “These bans seek to prohibit the use of two of the most popular tobacco products among adult users, and it is unrealistic to assume that demand for these products will just disappear. Instead, an illicit market for these products will emerge, creating a larger problem within tobacco regulation than the FDA hopes to solve by instituting these bans.”
In addition, NACS believes the FDA has not taken into consideration how the banning of these products will place burdens on convenience store owners, who are already grappling with rising gas prices, a supply chain crisis, labor shortages, economic uncertainty and increasing crime in their communities.
“A tobacco product standard on menthol flavoring and flavored cigars risks expanding the illicit trade of tobacco in the U.S. while severely injuring the convenience store industry. NACS believes the federal government should enforce the tobacco regulations that currently exist and reduce the large problem of the illicit trade in tobacco before promulgating new regulations,” NACS concluded in its comments.
The FDA said it will provide additional updates on the status of the rulemaking process “as additional information is available.”