FDA to Ban Menthol?

Report cites senior officials in move that would significantly affect tobacco category
Photograph: Shutterstock

WASHINGTON -- In a move that could wipe out more than a third of the cigarette business at convenience stores, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is said to be considering a ban on menthol cigarettes, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Citing senior agency officials, the Journal article said the agency is considering a ban on menthol cigarettes, though it could take a year or more for a rule banning menthol to be finalized, and then another year for it to be enforceable in the marketplace.

The FDA has taken several steps in recent weeks with regard to flavored electronic cigarettes in an effort to curb what it says is a spike in teen use of the nicotine-delivery devices. Reports indicate a ban of the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in c-stores is imminent.

With regard to menthol cigarettes, a study from Pittsburgh-based Management Science Associates (MSA) on the Minneapolis market (where lawmakers imposed menthol restrictions last year) reported that menthol accounted for 43% of total cigarette volume and 88% of total menthol-tobacco volume. The average convenience store would lose $238,000 to $259,000 in annual sales and incur a gross margin loss of $38,000 to $44,000 per store, the MSA report said.

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