Americans favor a ban on menthol cigarettes by 44% to 35%

Linley SandersData Journalist
May 02, 2022, 7:23 PM GMT+0

On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes and other flavored cigars. The targeted tobacco ban — which is designed to limit tobacco addiction among young Americans and minority communities — is supported by more Americans than the share who oppose it.

According to new YouGov polling, Americans are more supportive (44%) than not (35%) of a ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes, with stronger support coming from Democrats (57% support), people who have never smoked (51%), and adults under 30 (49% support). Greater opposition comes from adults who smoke menthol cigarettes at least a few times a year (41% support, 55% oppose).

The margin is smaller in favor of a ban on the sale of flavored cigars in the U.S. (41% support, 37% oppose). Most Democrats are supportive of a ban on flavored cigars (54%), compared to 41% of Republicans and 34% of Independents.

In an open-ended question where Americans could answer why they support or oppose the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes and flavored cigars, those in support of both of them often referenced the health hazards of cigarettes or a concern that flavored products are designed to target young people and minority communities. Some Americans who are opposed to both bans mention how it would impact their own smoking habits, or say that adults should be free to choose whether or not they want to smoke the tobacco products. Others say that the proposed bans will not do anything to truly keep young people from smoking.Why do you support the sale of  menthol-flavored cigarettes and flavored cigars in the United States?Tobacco companies oppose the bans on their products, arguing that outlawing the flavored products will just push consumers to seek them out in “criminal markets.” While YouGov polling finds that the bans are more supported than opposed, 43% of Americans do not expect taking menthol-flavored cigarettes out of the legal marketplace to have any impact on the number of people who smoke in the U.S. About one-quarter (27%) of Americans expect there to be a decrease in the number of smokers, while 10% think the bans will increase the number of smokers.

The FDA and public health officials have argued that menthol cigarettes cause more harm to African Americans because the tobacco industry has targeted its advertisements to Black communities. In a question modeled after a 1998 Time Magazine / Cable News Network poll, YouGov asked whether Americans believe that tobacco companies purposely target Black communities to get them to start smoking. One-third of Americans (32%) believe this, while 44% do not. Belief that tobacco companies target Black Americans to get them to start smoking is higher among Black Americans (43% believe this, 23% do not) and Democrats (47% to 27%).

This poll was conducted on April 28 - 30, 2022, among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this poll.

Image: Irina Iriser, Unsplash

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