Flavor For Thought
Where safety and smoking cultures clash.
The Broccoli Report
Friday, August 12, 2022
Time to read: 6 minutes, 53 seconds. Contains 1378 words.
Flavor For Thought: Where Safety and Smoking Cultures Clash.
One simmering news story has held my attention over the past several months: the proposed federal ban on menthol cigarettes. The ban touches so many things—the politics of vice, child safety, addiction, nostalgia, health equity, race—and possibly cannabis, too.
The minty-flavored cigarettes have come into the Food and Drug Administration’s crosshairs because eliminating them would positively impact the health of Black Americans. For decades, cigarette manufacturers targeted the Black community with menthol ads, and a significant percentage of the estimated 650,000 lives saved by removing menthol from the market represent Black lives. Almost 85% of Black smokers smoke menthols, compared with 30% of white smokers. And menthols attract young people—the Centers for Disease Control found that over half of smokers aged 12 to 17 smoke menthols, and the majority of smokers who started smoking as young adults first smoked menthols. According to some estimates, removing menthols from the market could prompt 1.3 million smokers to quit within a matter of months.
Given this, banning menthols seems like a no-brainer way to stop more people from developing a deathly addiction to tobacco while possibly curtailing use among adults. The Biden administration is likely to enact it; it supports the administration’s “Cancer Moonshot” mission to cut cancer death rates by at least 50% over the next 25 years. The ban would add the U.S. to the group of countries that have already banned menthol, including Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Turkey, Moldova, the European Union, and the U.K.
What does this have to do with weed? Given the backlash against flavored Juul pods and the imminent ban on menthol cigarettes, it seems inevitable that flavored cannabis products will eventually come under scrutiny. So, where’s the line when it comes to an adult’s freedom to consume flavorful smokables and the risk of creating a sweetened gateway for kids? Is the cannabis industry headed toward a serious identity crisis?
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