97 Organizations Agree, UN Human Rights Committee Must Address Menthol
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) leads 97 organizations from around the world in this public health appeal to end racial discrimination
Washington, DC – April 21, 2021 – Today, as we continue to fight for the health and safety of all African Americans, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is pleased to be joined by the DC Tobacco-Free Coalition, African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, National Council of Churches, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and a total of 97 organizations from around the world in submitting a time-sensitive report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
“We’re already more than a decade late protecting the health of Black Americans as strongly as we protect the health of other Americans, and they’ve paid the price of FDA inaction with their lives,” said ASH Managing Attorney Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy. “We call on the U.S. government to finish the flavors fight and ban the last remaining characterizing flavor in tobacco products: menthol.”
The report is time-sensitive because it addresses the ongoing death toll caused by menthol cigarettes in the United States. Menthol makes it easier to start smoking and harder to quit, resulting in a higher death toll for African Americans (despite less use) who have been targeted with menthol cigarettes.
97 organizations united to submit this report to CERD, an international human rights body made up of independent experts, because CERD is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the International Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
Thankfully, the United States is a party to the ICERD, meaning they are legally bound to uphold the human rights the treaty body protects, namely that everyone, regardless of race, color, origin, etc., has a right to public health. However, the United States is almost four years past due on submitting its report to this important human rights treaty aimed at reducing racial inequities, and a country’s report submission is what triggers their review by CERD. Therefore, our organizations also sent a letter to the State Department asking them to expedite the U.S. government’s report to CERD.
It is essential that the U.S. government fulfill its human rights obligations and submit its report to CERD because menthol, specifically the targeted advertising of menthol cigarettes, is an obstacle to the right to health of African Americans.
The goal of this joint report with 94 signatories is to encourage the ICERD committee to demand that the U.S. government take action to protect African Americans from the harms of menthol.
“By continuing to allow the sale of menthol cigarettes, the United States is failing to protect the health of African Americans,” said ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber. “It is the government’s duty to protect its citizens’ human rights. The CERD committee can and should implore the U.S. government to fulfill that duty by putting an end to the sale of menthol cigarettes.”
ACTION ON SMOKING AND HEALTH
Founded in 1967, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is America’s oldest anti-tobacco organization, dedicated to a world with ZERO tobacco deaths. Because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH supports bold solutions proportionate to the magnitude of the problem. https://ash.org