White House Delays Menthol Ban

The move came after the administration received ‘an immense amount of feedback.’

April 29, 2024

In a statement issued on Friday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said “It’s clear that there are still more conversations to have, and that will take significantly more time.”

In April 2022, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) formally published its proposed rules banning menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, which was followed by a notice-and-comment period for stakeholders and the public to weigh in on the proposals. NACS filed formal comments opposing prohibition on behalf of the convenience store industry.

The ban was first delayed in December 2023, and plans to finalize the ban in March never materialized. In published remarks, administration officials stated that they were still committed to implementing a ban.

Menthol cigarettes account for approximately 34% of cigarette sales.

"This rule has garnered historic attention and the public comment period has yielded an immense amount of feedback, including from various elements of the civil rights and criminal justice movement," Becerra said in a statement.

“We appreciate the willingness of the Department of Health and Human Services to give more consideration to its policies relating to menthol cigarettes,” said Doug Kantor, general counsel at NACS. “Real world data and results have shown that prohibition of menthol cigarettes does not reduce smoking or advance public health. Instead, like the experience with prohibition of other entrenched products, it simply leads to more illicit sales. We hope the weight of evidence showing the ineffectiveness of what was originally proposed leads the Department to change course entirely.”

In January of this year, NACS President and CEO Henry Armour published an opinion in The Washington Post arguing that “prohibitions on alcohol, marijuana and other addictive products have shown that simply banning such products does not get rid of them or help the people who use them.”

Read more about the delay in Politico and the Associated Press.