Statement on FDA’s Proposed Rule Banning Menthol as a Characterizing Flavor
Statement of Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Managing Attorney at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
WASHINGTON, DC – April 28, 2022 – Today, Action on Smoking and Health is thrilled to celebrate the news that the Food and Drug Administration has issued a proposed rule to prohibit menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes. We applaud the Biden Administration for taking this important step to protect Black Americans, and all Americans, from the deadly harms of menthol cigarettes.
When Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) first considered this lawsuit, we hoped that it would lead to such an important result. And with the support of our partners at the AMA and NMA, and led by the incredible legal team at Pollock Cohen, we are delighted that our initial investment has helped create a rule that will protect the health of Americans.
Menthol advertising violates the right to health of Black Americans, and ASH will continue encouraging international human rights mechanisms such as the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to follow the United States’ progress on menthol until the ban is fully implemented.
It is essential that the FDA proceed as quickly as possible with this rule, with no unnecessary delays.
According to the newest research available on Canada’s menthol ban, just accepted by Tobacco Control last week, 789,724 people who smoke daily (including 199,732 African Americans) are projected to quit after a US menthol ban. Those are lives we can and must save.
ASH encourages tobacco control and public health advocates to submit comments through the FDA’s process, which is open for 60 days. The tobacco industry will most certainly make their input known, and we must stand strong with the facts around the clear and outrageous harms of menthol made known. We cannot afford to back down now.
We thank our co-plaintiffs, the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the National Medical Association (NMA), the organizations behind the Citizen Petition, including the Public Health Law Center, as well as the legal team at Pollock Cohen, LLP for their hard work and dedication- we are proud to share in this joint victory with all of you.
However, we have not fully achieved victory until menthol cigarettes are off the shelves. Let’s remain firm in our mission and realize that goal.
The plaintiffs and partners will also host a live discussion of the results Tuesday, May 3, 2022 at noon ET / 9:00am PT, register here to attend.
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
Plaintiff’s Direct Media Contacts are:
For inquiries specific to the Citizen Petition, please contact Joelle Lester from the Public Health Law Center.
- International Tobacco Control (ITC) Policy Evaluation Project’s new research, released April 5, 2021, showing that quit rates increased in Canada following their ban on menthol. Contact Geoffrey Fong for additional details: firstname.lastname@example.org
- ITC Project’s infographic evaluating the Canadian menthol ban
- ITC Project: The Canada-Wide Menthol Cigarette Ban Did NOT Increase Illicit Purchases
- University of Bath’s Tobacco Tactics website lists all the other countries that have banned menthol and when. This policy initiative is not new.
- ASH’s resource page on how tobacco companies racially discriminate against Black Americans.
- Researchers found that stores in predominantly Black neighborhoods were up to 10 times more likely to display tobacco ads inside and outside than retailers in areas with fewer Black residents
- African American youth who smoke menthol cigarettes have greater nicotine dependence and a greater desire to smoke than non-menthol users, and therefore have a harder time quitting (source).
- 67% of overall health disparities in mortality in African American men are related to their high smoking prevalence (source).
- Joint report submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) asking them to implore the U.S. government to take action. The report includes useful facts and statistics on menthol use in the U.S.
- Joint statement addressing systemic racism in the enforcement of commercial tobacco control, released in 2020.
- Stock photos of menthol cigarettes for use
- Stock videos of menthol cigarettes for use