Menthol ban not helping smokers

Scott Viau

In Sept. of 2009, flavored cigarettes were effectively banned by the FDA. Among the flavors banned were coffee, fruit and candy. Now, the FDA wants to take things a step further and ban menthol cigarettes, as well. However, the ban will anger many menthol smokers and only further prohibits more of what we’re allowed to put into our bodies.

The reasoning behind both bans is that children may be attracted to the fun flavors, which may make them more inclined to smoke a cigarette.  It seems a bit hypocritical to ban something that has the potential to entice children when there’s flavored vodka for nearly every type of fruit out there. It’s ingrained into the heads of children just how dangerous cigarettes can be, but if they’re going to try them, not having a sweet-flavored smoke isn’t going to stop them.

I remember when I had my first cigarette at the age of twelve.  The taste of it was not pleasant, and I can’t imagine that adding artificial flavors would make it taste much better, especially to a child. The flavors added to a cigarette do not mask the otherwise foul aroma the cigarette will emit. It will give the smoke some undertones of flavor, but that’s about it. I didn’t start smoking because of the availability of fruit-flavored cigarettes. I started because I was curious and because it was something that was forbidden to me, which naturally made me want to try it.

According to CNN, the number of smokers who choose menthol has risen from 30 percent to 34 percent between 2004 and 2008. So for every three smokers one of them smokes menthol. The ban of menthol will not make any people quit, though. They’ll just switch to a different brand. Or the FDA could make a new class of criminal overnight: the menthol cigarette dealer. When it comes to smokers and their cigarettes, a good rule to live by is to not come between them. They have a love-hate relationship. If a smoker is soon unable to buy their menthol cigarettes, it is quite possible that smokers will take to the streets or wherever they have to go in order to get the taste of their brand. It won’t be a pretty picture and will cause more tax dollars to be wasted on those who break the ban.

Perhaps the government should spend their time worrying about how to stop people from lighting up in the first place regardless of what their brand is. Getting people off of cigarettes and keeping them out of the hands of children isn’t an easy task, but it’s one that deserves more attention than what the government is willing to do. By banning these products the FDA is saying that it would rather sweep a problem under a rug than get to the root of it.

First the government hikes taxes on cigarettes, making an expensive habit even more so, then the FDA decides that certain cigarettes should not be available to the public.   It seems to me as being incredibly hypocritical to impose the largest tax hike on cigarettes only to later say citizens can only smoke non-flavored cigarettes all in the name of not having children start smoking.

Whether or not a menthol cigarette is more dangerous than a regular one has yet to be determined,  but to make sure smokers still have the right to smoke them may be a battle. The government is allowed to be concerned about the health of its citizens, but going so far as to ban flavored cigarettes is not the way to bring about change.