NACS Says Menthol Ban Would Create Illicit Market

The FDA’s proposed rules would “severely injure the convenience store industry.”

August 02, 2022

Menthol Flavored e-Cigarettes

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—NACS submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the agency’s two proposed tobacco product standards, which would prohibit menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and prohibit all flavors other than tobacco in cigars.

“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. “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.

There’s still time for convenience retailers to submit comments on the two proposed tobacco product standards. The FDA is accepting comments until tonight at 11:59 p.m.

It’s imperative that the FDA hears from convenience retailers, as NACS cannot replicate the personal testimony convenience retailers can provide with their comment letters. The convenience industry invests millions in compliance efforts to ensure that legal, regulated tobacco products do not get into the hands of minors. These protections and investments will be lost if the proposed bans go into effect.

NACS has made it easy for retailers to file personalized comments. Retailers can download a pre-drafted letter that can be modified to describe their business and their compliance efforts. These letters will be even more effective if retailers write their own thoughts based on the points in the template. The more personalized the comments the FDA receives, the better.

Retailers, save a copy of your letter and email it to Margaret Hardin, grassroots manager, at to file on your behalf.

Your comment letter will help the FDA better understand the effects these bans would have on your business and why the FDA should not move forward with the proposed rules.