The FDA has recently announced that they intend to ban menthol cigarettes and cigars with characterizing flavors. These actions would enact Prohibition on a significant part of the tobacco marketplace—menthol cigarettes are 37% of all cigarettes sold nationwide, and flavored cigars are approximately 37-47% of all cigars sold. The FDA is required to solicit and respond to comments from the public about the impact of these policies, specifically to consider all costs and benefits of the proposed rules. To that end, FDA has opened two dockets—one for menthol cigarettes and one for flavored cigars—where interested citizens can submit their comments to the record. The deadline to submit comments is July 5th, 2022. LIGRA is working with multiple Associations throughout the State and country on this. We are asking that everyone that currently sells or uses these tobacco products to take a few minutes to send the sample letter to the FDA both mailed and upload to the FDA web site via the attached links. One link is for the flavored cigars and one link is for the menthol ban. Remember to insert your name where is reads (PUT YOUR NAME HERE) Sample letter I (PUT YOUR NAME HERE) respectfully submits the following comments on the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed menthol tobacco and flavored cigar bans. While it is clear the intention of these bans is to reduce consumption of such products, they will not actually do so. Rather, they will move regulated sales of menthol or flavored tobacco products to the illegal marketplace, while not creating any reductions in consumption, which is at an all-time low nonetheless. New York State already has a significant illegal tobacco products trade problem, and this policy will only create a larger illegal marketplace where individuals will be forced to purchase products they would normally buy at a local small business. An article in the NY Post cites New York’s high taxes on tobacco products as the cause for why approximately 57% of all cigarettes consumed in New York come from illegal sources. With a significant number of adult smokers choosing menthol cigarettes, the illegal marketplace will only grow, leading consumers to purchase unregulated, unsafe tobacco products. The FDA should know that the best way to prevent smoking is to keep products in the regulated market and take measures to educate and utilize harm reduction policies instead. In 2019, New York State increased the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21, proving that it is possible to reduce youth smoking rates without a flat-out ban on certain products. The latest study issued by the New York State Department of Health (DOH) demonstrates that smoking in adults aged 18-24 has reached a new low of 5.5 percent, proving that State policies are working. In addition, data from The New York State Department of Health (DOH) in 2021 indicates that youth smoking and tobacco use is at historic lows, for all tobacco product categories, demonstrating that current public health methods like education and underage prevention are successful. The FDA could authorize less harmful, smoke-free products under the existing product approval processes, but instead is choosing to endorse the consumption of unregulated, unsafe products through the illegal trade market. For these reasons, LIGRA opposes the ban on menthol tobacco products and flavored cigars. Comments can be submitted to the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products either by mail, hand delivery to the FDA office, or over the Internet on the www.regulations.gov website: 1. By Mail/Hand delivery To: Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305) Food and Drug Administration 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061 Rockville, MD 20852 2. On the Internet: Copy and paste into your computer’s web browser program the respective link below for the proposed regulation banning menthol in cigarettes or the proposed regulation banning characterizing flavors in cigars. You may either copy and paste your comments or upload them directly: • Menthol Ban: https://www.regulations.gov/commenton/FDA-2021-N-1349-0001 • Flavored Cigar Ban: https://www.regulations.gov/commenton/FDA-2021-N-1309-0001
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