The Food and Drug Administration is set to ban the manufacture and sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes, the only remaining flavored cigarette still legally allowed. To borrow from an unintentionally grim advertising tagline used by the leading menthol brand, the move makes us alive with pleasure.

The first reason is also the second, third, and the last: Smoking is powerfully addictive, and it kills.

After the publication of a wealth of studies conclusively demonstrating the deadliness and addictiveness of the toxic carcinogens packed inside every box, after sweeping prohibitions on public smoking in New York and around the country, after years of increasing taxes on cigarettes, far fewer Americans smoke than did in the middle of the last century.

Yet the awful habit is still responsible for more than 480,000 American deaths per year, and immeasurable agony. That's in no small part because, when the FDA banned flavored cigarettes, the gateway cancer sticks for many young people, in 2009, it left a lethal asterisk carving out the flavor that happened to be most aggressively marketed to and popular among Black Americans. It did so despite the fact that Black Americans currently die at higher rates of tobacco-related illnesses like cancer and heart disease than others, and despite the fact that menthol flavoring helps draw in smokers at younger ages by masking the throat irritation regular cigarettes cause.

So cheer the administration of President Joe Biden for actually taking this step, which neither the administrations of Presidents Donald Trump nor Barack Obama was willing to enact.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

At this point, we'd like to blow a stiff puff of smoke in the face of the Rev. Al Sharpton, who lobbied against the "unjust" ban, even though his National Action Network accepted money from tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds. Boo!

The Biden administration estimates the ban, which must be strictly but sensitively enforced, will result in nearly 1 million people quitting smoking in the first 17 months after being enacted, and it could save 633,000 Americans' lives. That's the population of Memphis.

— New York Daily News