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WASHINGTON — The White House is about to feel what it’s like to go up against the world’s most powerful tobacco companies.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration requested White House clearance on a policy that would ultimately ban menthol cigarettes. The tobacco industry has already spent the last few months doing everything it can to drum up opposition, from drafting letters for members of Congress to rallying freedom-focused smokers, according to a review of advertising databases, leaked documents, and research reports.


The proposal, which is supported by a range of public health groups but fiercely opposed by cigarette makers, is one of the most consequential tobacco policies coming out of the FDA since the agency was given the authority to regulate tobacco in 2009. Researchers have estimated that the ban, if finalized, could prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, particularly among Black smokers, who use these products at a higher rate than other racial groups.

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