Salem-Type Cigarettes: Still a Breath of Air in America

Craxi was a smoker of menthol-added cigarettes

Joe Biden announced that he would again delay a decision on a regulation aiming to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes. This delay was due to the “historic attention” and “immense amount of feedback” on the controversial proposal by the Food and Drug Administration (Fda).

The agency announced its plans to ban menthol tobacco cigarettes in 2021, followed by its proposed rules for the ban in 2022. The move was aimed at improving the health of those most likely to smoke them, including children and Black Americans.

In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was enacted in the Usa. This act gave the Fda the authority to regulate tobacco products. As a result, cigarettes with a characterizing flavor were banned. However, menthol cigarettes were exempted from this ban.

What is the reason for the exemption of menthol cigarettes from the ban? Menthol is a flavor additive with a minty taste and aroma that is widely used in consumer and medicinal products due to its reported cooling or painkilling properties.

When used in cigarettes, menthol may reduce the irritation and harshness of smoking. However, research suggests menthol cigarettes may be harder to quit than non-menthol cigarettes, particularly among African American smokers.

According to the Fda, nearly 85 percent of Black smokers use menthol cigarettes, compared to just 30 percent of white smokers. The proposed ban — and now the delay — has raised questions about the potential impact on Black voters months before a contentious presidential election.

Salem cigarettes

Bettino Craxi, a leader of the Psi during the 80s and a prominent figure in the Italian political scenario, used to smoke and enjoyed the famous Salem cigarettes, which are known for being flavored with menthol. (Sergio Scialabba)

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