Biden administration to announce plan to ban menthol cigarettes: Washington Post

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration this week is expected to propose a ban on menthol cigarettes, a move backed by civil rights groups that say Black Americans are hurt by the industry's aggressive targeting of the product, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday. 

  The administration will seek to ban menthol and other flavors in mass-produced cigars, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration faces a Thursday court deadline to respond to a 2013 citizen's petition seeking a ban on menthols. Public health groups filed a lawsuit last year in federal district court in Northern California to require the FDA to respond to the petition. 

  The Post said it could be years before any ban would take effect, but the move would be praised by anti-smoking groups. Tobacco use remains a leading source of preventable illness and death in the country, particularly for people of color. 

  The FDA declined to comment on the report from Post. 

  "There is not an open question on whether menthol in cigarettes is harmful – the evidence is overwhelming and consistent,” Joelle Lester, director of commercial tobacco control programs at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Minnesota, told the Post 

  The law center led a group of 19 public health organizations to file the 2013 petition. 

  Last week, tobacco stocks tumbled after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration is weighing whether to move forward on a menthol ban or a nicotine reduction in all cigarettes—or both. Such a ban could impact Altria Group, maker of Marlboros; Europe's Imperial Brands, maker of Gauloises and Winston cigarettes; and British American Tobacco, maker of Lucky Strike and Newport cigarettes. 

  Altria, Imperial Brands and British American Tobacco were not immediately available for comment on the Post report. 

  (Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Carl O'Donnell, Ankur Banerjee and Aishwarya Venugopal; Editing by Tim Ahmann, Bill Berkrot and Lisa Shumaker) 

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