In November, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., announced that the agency is planning to remove menthol cigarettes from the marketplace. Public health advocates and tobacco control organizations across the country celebrated the announcement because menthol makes tobacco easier to start and harder to quit. However, this FDA action is likely to take years and will face a fierce challenge by the tobacco industry as menthol makes up 35% of the cigarette market share. As a first step, the FDA will need to publicly announce the proposed new rule. This will be followed by a public comment period. Analysts speculate that any policy could take at least two years to be adopted and implemented. Litigation from the tobacco industry could slow down that timeline or halt the process entirely.
In the same announcement, Commissioner Gottlieb also stated that the FDA plans to crack down on electronic cigarettes. Specifically, online vendors will be required to age verify and in-person sale of flavored e-cigarettes will be limited to adult-only locations. Like the proposed menthol rule, these changes will require a public comment period.