The US Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, in a statement issued on Thursday.
The news release stated that the action is aimed at significantly reducing tobacco-related diseases and deaths.
“The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, in the statement.
While speaking to Hallie Jackson on MSNBC, Dr. John Torres, Senior Medical Correspondent of NBC News, explained that teenagers start smoking menthol cigarettes because it tends to be smoother and does not have the harshness found in the regular ones. They find it harder to quit as well.
There is also a high proportion of people who smoke menthol cigarettes among the minority groups like Blacks and Latinos; around 85% of Black and 66% of Latino smoke these cigarettes.
“So it is hitting them disproportionately,” Dr. Torres said.
There will be a two-month question and comment period where the FDA will evaluate before authorizing and putting a ban on menthol cigarettes which might happen over the course of next year.