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DeWine decries Biden administration’s delay on flavored tobacco ban

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(The Center Square) – The Biden administration’s plan to delay a national ban on flavored tobacco products announced more than two years ago left Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine disappointed.

The U.S. Federal Drug Administration announced in April 2022 its plan to ban menthol and flavored cigarettes and cigars but has yet to take action.

The administration said recently it would again delay the plan because of large feedback and attention.

“This rule has garnered historic attention and the public comment period has yielded an immense amount of feedback, including from various elements of the civil rights and criminal justice movement” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “It’s clear that there are still more conversations to have, and that will take significantly more time.”

DeWine made a ban part of his State of State address earlier this month, saying 81% of 12- to 15-year-olds who first tried tobacco did it with flavored products.

He called on President Joe Biden to enact the proposed rules that ban flavored tobacco products.

Without a federal ban, DeWine asked Ohio lawmakers to pass a uniform, statewide flavored tobacco ban.

DeWine said the administration’s continued reluctance to pass the ban allows more children to become addicted.

“I am deeply disappointed in President Biden’s decision to delay banning menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products,” DeWine said in a statement. “A new generation of Americans is becoming addicted to nicotine because of flavored tobacco and vaping products, including menthol. We need a uniform national flavor ban right away.”

In January, a group of 22 U.S. senators, including Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young voicing their concern over ongoing delays in enacting the regulations.

Senators wrote, “We are extremely concerned that the rule is now expected to be released in March 2024, which is two years after the Food and Drug Administration’s April 2022 announcement of the proposed rule. Likewise, we are also awaiting a final rule to ban all flavors in cigars, a proposed rule that was also announced in April 2022.”

According to Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, in both 2013 and 2018, the FDA published a notice of proposed rulemaking to obtain information related to the potential regulation of menthol in cigarettes. In March 2019, the FDA announced it was considering removing flavored cigars that were on the market as of Aug. 8, 2016.

In April 2022, the FDA said it planned to ban menthol as characterizing flavor in cigarettes and all flavored cigars.

Senators wrote, “The data uncovered over the last decade is more than clear. Menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars have contributed to a public health crisis, and the administration must center those impacted and finalize these rules immediately.”

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