FDA’s first marketing denial orders on menthol e-cigarettes underscore substantial risks menthol and flavored products pose to youth and young adults
Statement by Robin Koval, CEO and President of Truth Initiative
Truth Initiative is encouraged by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to issue marketing denial orders for two Logic brand menthol e-cigarette products, determining that based on a full scientific review, they did not meet the public health standard established by the Tobacco Control Act.
This important and decisive move under the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) Director Dr. Brian King’s leadership underscores the significant health risk that all flavored e-cigarettes – including menthol – present for youth and young adults with regard to appeal, uptake, and use. The denial of these two menthol e-cigarette products is a critical step in the right direction to protect our nation’s youth.
Today’s action is particularly meaningful as it’s the first FDA decision issued on any menthol e-cigarette product. With this decision, the FDA confirmed that there is insufficient evidence that these menthol flavored e-cigarettes help adult smokers reduce their cigarette use or switch completely away from cigarettes. At the same time, we know that youth and young adults use flavored e-cigarettes, including menthol, at high rates.
The most recent data from the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey indicated that 26.6% of middle and high school students who use flavored e-cigarettes use menthol. Findings published in Tobacco Control in July 2022 by CDC Foundation in collaboration with Truth Initiative show that sales of e-cigarettes in “cooling” flavors like menthol, ice, cool, frost, chill, or freeze rose by nearly 700%, and their U.S. market share doubled to 55% between 2017 and 2021, making today’s decision ever more critical and timely given the on-going youth e-cigarette epidemic.
Menthol – both on its own and in combination with nicotine – alters the nicotine receptors in the brain and can contribute to nicotine dependence. Menthol has also been shown to increase the intensity of nicotine’s reinforcing effects and withdrawal symptoms, making it easier to start and harder to quit.
Today’s menthol e-cigarette decision shows that sound science is prevailing, and that the FDA is taking much needed steps to protect youth and young adults from these highly addictive products. We urge the FDA to continue this important work, complete its review of all remaining e-cigarette applications, and swiftly remove all flavored tobacco products, including menthol from the market.
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