DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is hoping to reduce disease and death by unveiling a plan to ban the sale of menthol flavored cigarettes and all flavored cigars.

Dr. Joseph Allen, regional medical director for Premier Health, said menthol is a flavor added to reduce irritation and the harshness of smoking.

“Menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars are kind of a gateway into smoke cigarettes and smoking cigars in general,” Dr. Allen explained.

According to Stacy Shern, chronic disease prevention senior manager at Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County (PHDMC), some groups use these tobacco products more than others.

“Menthol usage is higher in younger people as well as African Americans. And this is in part because the tobacco industry actually markets towards that population as well as in the urban cities,” Shern said.

Right now, the FDA estimates 18.6 million people in the U.S. smoke menthol cigarettes. The FDA believes this ban could prevent hundreds of thousands of those people from dying.

“Tobacco use is very harmful to our health. It is actually the leading cause of cancer and death from cancer. So those who use tobacco, it can damage their heart and blood vessels, as well as increase their risk of heart disease and stroke,” Shern said.

The agency will now come up with framework for this ban; however, local health leaders do not want people to wait for it to be enforced. They urge smokers to get help quitting as soon as possible.

“Quitting is tough. I think the average person that quits cigarettes tries about seven times before they get off. So I always have that talk with my patients as well, that this isn’t a one and done. If you fail once, it’s ok, it’s not a failure, it’s just a process. And we got to get back up on that horse,” Dr. Allen said.

There are resources to help you quit smoking. Dr. Allen recommends talking to your health care provider. People can also get help through the PHDMC Tobacco Cessation Program. Call (937) 225-5700 or click here for more information.