In a recent article, the Food and Drug Administration proposed plans to place a ban on menthol cigarettes in the United States, citing their growing popularity among young adults as well as minority populations as a serious cause for concern. The FDA feels that menthol cigarettes are more harmful because of their minty flavoring (which masks the tobacco taste) and could potentially cause the product to become easier to smoke and more difficult to quit.
Facts About Menthol Cigarettes
Already banned in Europe beginning in 2022, the FDA has attempted to outlaw menthol cigarettes in the U.S. for years. Although the FDA acknowledges that menthol cigarettes present a greater health threat than non-menthol cigarettes, pressure from the tobacco lobby and other advocacy groups have prevented an outright ban.
The statistics are clear and alarming. Did you know that:
- Menthol makes tobacco smoke taste better and feel less harsh, which is why young users typically choose menthol for their first cigarette.
- Menthol cigarette advertising frequently targets African-Americans and people of color, and contributes to shorter life expectancies.
- 83% of African-American smokers, 51% of Asian smokers, and 47% of Latino smokers choose menthol cigarettes. By comparison, 24% of white smokers use menthols.
- 88% of adult smokers start before age 18.
- The health risks associated with smoking — specifically heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer — are more common in people of color. People of color are also likely to suffer worse treatment outcomes because they are diagnosed later in life, when intervention is less likely to be as effective
While the FDA is beginning talks on implementing an outright ban, the tobacco industry responded, claiming that menthol cigarettes are in no way more harmful or addictive than their non-menthol counterparts.
Smoking and Addiction
Although a ban on menthol cigarettes would not eliminate all the damage caused by smoking, it would have an immense impact on the tobacco industry. Because many individuals who are in substance abuse rehabilitation smoke to relieve tension, it also affects recovery. Because the primary focus in rehabilitation is getting rid of dependency on a substance, smoking can become a dangerous crutch.
Although it is a personal choice to smoke, it is an unhealthy pursuit that diminishes all of the holistic work a person has done for themselves while in recovery. A dependence on any substance (whether an illegal drug or the overuse of caffeine) is not healthy for the body and can cause serious problems now and even years into the future. While the future of cigarettes is still up in the air, it is important to remember that smoking is a choice, and after all the difficult work that many people have put into their recovery process, their emotional and physical health should remain a top priority in their lives for continued recovery success.
For more information on smoking and substance abuse, or to learn more about our holistic substance abuse recovery program, contact Clarity Way today.