WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Thursday, the FDA released its plan to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars in the next few years, a plan already decades in the making.

“Ultimately, hundreds of thousands of lives will be saved,” Erika Sward, National Assistant Vice President for Advocacy with the American Lung Association, said.

Sward says the tobacco industry has long targeted children through the sale of menthol cigarettes, adding menthol and flavored cigars, and cigarettes are much more addictive than regular cigarettes.

“Within 13 to 17 months of menthol cigarettes being removed from store shelves, close to a million people would work to quit smoking,” Sward said.

Sward says the sale of menthol cigarettes also disproportionately affects black, brown, and LGBTQIA+ communities.

“As a result, we’ve had huge health inequities and disparities within these communities. More than 4 in 5 African Americans who smoke use menthol cigarettes,” Sward said.

However, several local smoke shops with licenses to sell cigarettes say at least 50% of their sales come from menthol cigarettes and other flavored products.

“This is what everybody comes in for. We sell more of the menthols and then the full flavors then like anything else combined,” Jennifer Perea, manager of Smoke Stax, said.

Perea and others warn any ban on menthol cigarettes could lead to major changes and economic losses for their businesses.

“With the prices of cigarettes already going up, it’s just going to be not even a win-win or a win-lose; it’s just a loss,” Kenia Lee, a cashier at the M&M Smoke Shop, said.

“Surviving may not look like we look like this right now. It may require a whole lot of adjustment, bringing in groceries and becoming a new kind of store. I think the right ones will endure, but I don’t think it will be fair,” Perea said.