The Food and Drug Administration promised Thursday to issue new regulations within a year to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and small flavored cigars, aiming to reduce smoking among Black and young Americans. The ban could take years to go into effect, following a comment period and possible legal challenges. There are “very important considerations, starting with legal considerations, about getting this right as we move forward in the rulemaking,” FDA Center for Tobacco Products director Mitch Zeller said at a briefing. The FDA banned most flavored cigarettes in 2009 but exempted menthols.
The American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and the NAACP welcomed the proposed ban on menthols; 85 percent of Black smokers use menthols, versus less than 30 percent of white smokers. The Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah welcomed it, too.
“Honestly, I’m all for it,” Noah said on Thursday’s Daily Show. “Partly because tobacco companies have an ugly history of targeting menthols to Black communities,” but also because they smell terrible. “Whenever I hang around someone who smokes menthols, it smells like they were just fighting a fire at a Mentos factory,” he said. “Pick a smell, man! But whether you’re for this thing or against it, you gotta admit it’s gonna send ripples through the Black community in America.” Correspondent Roy Wood Jr. took the opposite view, though he wasn’t about to let a crisis go to waste. Watch below.