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FDA looking to ban menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars

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CHESAPEAKE, Va. -- The days of getting your favorite menthol cigarettes might be coming to an end.

The FDA announced plans to ban them Thursday.

They said young people between the ages of 12-17 are more likely than any other age group to use menthol cigarettes. WTKR got mixed reactions from local businesses and smokers.

Some smokers we spoke with said “inhaling and exhaling” cigarette smoke is a stress reliever.

However, others said they "can’t imagine it actually happening” because the cigarette industry is so big.

The FDA wants to ban them, along with flavored cigars, saying they’re more addictive than traditional cigarettes.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. also said the number of young people using them is “troubling."

"More than half (54 percent) of youth smokers ages 12-17 use menthol cigarettes, compared to less than one-third of smokers ages 35 and older. Prevalence of menthol use is even higher among African-American youth, with data showing that seven out of 10 African-American youth smokers select menthol cigarettes," he said.

He also noted that “menthol products disproportionately and adversely affect underserved communities."

We talked with employees at Smoker’s World 2 in Chesapeake Friday afternoon.

“This is the biggest seller of the menthol cigarettes, the Newport’s,” Rona Hyman, who’s worked with the company for a few years, explained.

She’s not fond of the idea.

“That would be a big impact on business because we do sell a lot of menthol cigarettes. I don't really see the young people buying cigarettes,” Hyman explained.

Some of their customers, however, think it’s a step in the right direction.

Related: Smokers split on public housing smoking ban 

“My body just started rejecting it,” former cigarette smoker Khrys Perry told News 3. “The taste just started getting nasty to me and I tried even more and more to force it.”

Perry began vaping six months ago.

Though local stores are worried about their bottom line,  they believe they’ll eventually make up for the loss.

“They always try to come up with something else to replace it,” Hyman explained.

No word yet on when the ban could go into effect.

You can read the FDA's full statement here.

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