A majority of adults in the United States support policies that prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and all tobacco products according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC survey, published Thursday in the peer-reviewed electronic journal, Preventing Chronic Disease, assessed support for commercial tobacco retail policies among 6,455 U.S. adults. Overall, about 57% of adults supported a policy prohibiting the sale of all tobacco products and about 62% supported a policy prohibiting the sale of menthol cigarettes.
“A majority of adults supported tobacco retail policies aimed at preventing initiation, promoting quitting, and reducing tobacco-related disparities,” the study said. “These findings can help inform federal, state, and local efforts to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.”
Policy support varied by demographic groups and current tobacco product use, according to the study.
CDC researchers found that there was widespread support for a policy to prohibit menthol cigarette sales across all demographic groups. Support for bans on tobacco sales was only lower among current tobacco product users, according to the study.
Marketing behind tobacco products
Commercial tobacco products, including products with menthol, are disproportionately marketed and advertised to youth, those who identify as LGBTQ+, and racial and ethnic minorities, according to the study.
“Our findings are generally consistent with previous research showing support for menthol cigarette sales prohibitions, including among population groups historically targeted by unjust marketing practices and with a high prevalence of menthol cigarette use (eg, non-Hispanic Black adults),” the study reads.
The survey was conducted in 2021 before the Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars in 2022. In its announcement on the proposed ban, the FDA said rules prohibiting tobacco products would prevent youth “from becoming the next generation of smokers” and significantly reduce tobacco-related health disparities.
Legislation on tobacco products
Although the FDA is still considering its proposal, some states have already enacted bans or restrictions on tobacco product sales.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Massachusetts became the first state to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, in 2019. The next year, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.
California voters in 2022 passed a ballot measure that prohibits the sale of flavored and menthol tobacco products at retail locations and vending machines.
While cigarette smoking in the U.S. has declined since 2005, the CDC said about 30.8 million adults currently smoke cigarettes and more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.
Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the U.S., according to the CDC. More than 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths, are caused by cigarette smoking.
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