More than half of U.S. adults like the Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to ban the sale of tobacco products nationwide.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a research brief outlining that support in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease. CDC researchers, using data from a 2021 SpringStyles panel survey, found 62% of adults support banning the sale of menthol cigarettes and 57% support prohibiting the sale of all tobacco products.

“A majority of adults supported tobacco retail policies aimed at preventing initiation, promoting quitting and reducing tobacco-related disparities. These findings can help inform federal, state, and local efforts to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes,” the research brief said.

The survey, which was nationally representative, surveyed 6,455 adults in 2021 about retail sales policies. CNN reported that the survey was done before the FDA proposed banning menthol and flavored cigars in April 2021.

“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 authors said. 

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In a statement accompanying the ban proposal, which has now gone through an extended comment period, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said that the rules, if adopted, “would prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit. Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities.”

The survey showed lower support among those who now use tobacco products. But more than a third of current smokers think menthol cigarettes should be banned and more than a fourth of them support a total tobacco ban.

A deadly toll

“Cigarette smoking has declined in recent years. But the latest figures still attribute it as the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the U.S., accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year,” Medical Daily reported.

The article cited CDC figures showing that in 2020, about 13% of adults 18 and older smoked. “This translated to 30.8 million adult smokers in the country. At the same time, 16 million Americans were diagnosed with a smoking-related disease.”

Concern about menthol

“Experts say menthol — the last flavor allowed in cigarettes — makes smoking easier to start and harder to quit. The additive can mask the harshness and irritation of tobacco, making cigarettes more appealing to young people and those who have never used tobacco products. It also enhances the effect of nicotine in the brain, making tobacco products even more addictive,” CNN reported.

The article said that “research has shown that tobacco products, especially those with menthol, are disproportionately marketed to youth, racial and ethnic minorities, lower-income people and those who identify as LGBTQ+, all of whom are more likely to use these products and develop tobacco-related health problems.”

In a statement last year, American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said that removing the availability of menthol cigarettes “would have enormous benefits for public health in this country.”

The FDA earlier this year denied marketing of two Vuse menthol cigarette products, saying they did not meet public health standards. The notice said, “The company must not market or distribute these products in the U.S. or they risk FDA enforcement action.” It also said the company can reapply to address “the deficiencies for the products” that led to the denial.