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NACS Daily: Menthol Ban Postponed

NACS Daily: Menthol Ban Postponed

Menthol Ban Postponed

The Biden Administration announced that the proposed ban on menthol cigarettes has again been delayed.

In a statement issued on Friday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said that the proposed ban “will take significantly more time.” 

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. NACS has expressed opposition to the proposed ban since the Biden Administration announced its intention to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars from the market in 2021. 

NACS’ position has been that prohibition does not rid these products from society but instead pushes current users to the illicit market, creating an issue for society as a whole and undermining the compliance efforts and investments made by responsible tobacco retailers. In addition, prohibition leads to an influx of these products on the illicit market and illicit sellers do not comply with laws limiting sales to minors.

“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 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.

In November 2023, NACS urged the White House in a letter to reconsider the menthol ban:

“…(T)he proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars would have a detrimental impact on small businesses, including approximately 93,250 small operators in the U.S. convenience store industry,” wrote NACS. “If implemented, a single convenience store would lose $72,285 a year in non-tobacco sundry sales, representing close to 4% of inside sales, on top of the $160,107 lost due to the reduction in sales of tobacco products.”

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.”

NACS Daily will have more coverage on Monday.

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