Spross: Menthol Ban Will Be ‘After the Election’

‘Biden administration realizes that this is a political issue,’ executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets says at M-PACT
M-Pact David Spross
Photograph CSP Staff

With the proposed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules banning menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars delayed again, Executive Director David Spross with the National Association of Tobacco Outlets said he does not expect to see a final rule until after the presidential election.

At the annual Midwest Fuel and Convenience Trade Show (M-PACT) last week in Indianapolis, Spross spoke about the state of the tobacco category with attendees in his presentation Tobacco & Nicotine Regulatory Updates. 

Spross reminded attendees of the weight behind the FDA receiving an overwhelming number of comments on the menthol cigarette and flavored cigar bans. “Because of those 250,000 comments and the number of stakeholder meetings that have happened on this rule, the Biden administration realizes that this is a political issue,” Spross said.

According to the FDA, the comments included around 175,000 for the menthol cigarettes proposed rule and close to 71,000 for the flavored cigars proposed rule.

Spross noted that since receiving Reagan-Udall Foundation recommendations, the FDA is now continuing to step up its plan of actions, including enforcement of illegal vapor products and a “huge uptick with the civil monetary penalties.” The agency has issued more than 550 warning letters to and filed more than 100 civil money penalty complaints against retailers for the sale of unauthorized tobacco products.

“What's interesting about this is that the FDA is putting a pretty egregious fine on those products,” he said. “They are going after the maximum civil penalty.”

Currently, the maximum penalty amount for violating a requirement of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) relating to tobacco products is $20,678 for a single violation, the agency said. 

Spross also briefed attendees about legislative updates on the state and local governments, including Vermont. Governor Phil Scott last week vetoed legislation banning the sale of flavored tobacco and vape products in Vermont. States that are also considering flavor bans on all tobacco and nicotine products include Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota and Michigan.

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