National Medical Association (NMA) Joins AATCLC, AMA and ASH in Lawsuit Against the FDA
Lawsuit seeks to require the FDA to take action on menthol cigarettes
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 3, 2020 – Today, the National Medical Association (NMA) joined a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alongside partners at the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), and the American Medical Association (AMA). The plaintiffs are represented by Pollock Cohen, LLP.
The complaint, initially filed on June 17, 2020, asserts that, contrary to the duties imposed by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (“Tobacco Control Act”), the FDA has failed to act on menthol cigarettes. On November 12, the case passed its first hurdle when the court denied the FDA’s motion to dismiss. This momentum is further bolstered by the National Medical Association joining the list of plaintiffs, bringing continued attention to this very important issue.
As the nation’s only organization devoted to the needs of African American physicians, health professionals and their patients, the NMA serves as the conscience of the medical profession in the ongoing fight to eliminate health disparities in the nation’s health care delivery system. The NMA has been an unwavering advocate for health policies that improve the quality and availability of health care of African Americans and other underserved populations. African Americans have the highest surveyed rate of desire to quit smoking but are less successful in quit attempts than white and Hispanic smokers. This is due in part to the anesthetic effects of menthol in mentholated cigarettes and the high rate of mentholated cigarette use among African Americans. This is precisely the type of health disparity the NMA seeks to eliminate. The defendants’ unlawful refusal to comply with their Tobacco Act obligations and address mentholated cigarettes undermines the NMA’s efforts to eliminate health disparities and promote healthy lifestyles among African Americans and other underserved populations, and impedes its mission to achieve parity and justice in medicine. “The menthol flavor added to cigarettes strengthens addiction and must be taken off the market” stated Dr. Leon McDougle, President National Medical Association.
“We will not sit idly by while tobacco companies continue to market menthol cigarettes to the Black community and prey on Black youth, and we cannot wait any longer for FDA to fulfill its long-overdue mandate to address this crisis. We are proud to join with NMA, AATCLC and ASH in this effort to compel FDA to finally meet its mandate and act immediately to ban menthol-flavored tobacco products,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, M.D.
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, smoking-related illnesses are the leading causes of death in the African American community, and 85 percent of African Americans who smoke use menthol cigarettes.
“For over a decade the FDA has known that menthol flavored cigarettes have been the driving force in the continued health disparities faced by African Americans,” said Dr. Valerie Yerger, founding member of the AATCLC. “The NMA joining this lawsuit as co-plaintiffs sends a loud resounding message from African American physicians that menthol flavored cigarettes, responsible for killing more African Americans than car accidents, AIDS, and homicides combined, must be removed from the marketplace.”
“The United States is not only failing to protect the health of its citizens, but it’s also falling behind international progress on tobacco control. Other countries, including Canada, Brazil, and the European Union, have already taken this step to save lives. It’s about time the FDA did the same for Americans. We are so pleased that the National Medical Association has joined the lawsuit, and we are convinced that the court will require the FDA to take action,” said Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Managing Attorney at ASH.
About the African American Tobacco Leadership Council (AATCLC)
The AATCLC was formed to educate the public about the effects of tobacco on the Black American and African Immigrant populations, the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing tactics and the need to regulate flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. To more effectively reach and save Black lives, the AATCLC also partners with community stakeholders and public serving agencies to inform and direct tobacco control policies, practices and priorities. https://www.savingblacklives.org.
About Action on Smoking & Health (ASH)
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.
About the American Medical Association (AMA)
The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care. The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises, and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care. For more information, visit https://www.ama-assn.org.
About the National Medical Association (NMA)
National Medical Association (“NMA”) is a Maryland 501(c)(3) national professional and scientific organization representing the interests of more than 50,000 African American physicians and the patients they serve—the largest and oldest such organization in the United States. The NMA is committed to improving the quality of health among minorities and disadvantaged people through its membership, professional development, community health education, advocacy, research and partnerships with federal and private agencies. The NMA is particularly steadfast in its commitment to the elimination of health disparities and the promotion of healthy lifestyles among African Americans and other underserved populations. For example, the NMA passed an August 3, 2017 resolution during their Annual Meeting of the House of Delegates, supporting a prohibition on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including mentholated cigarettes. Throughout its history the National Medical Association has focused primarily on health issues related to African Americans and medically underserved populations; however, its principles, goals, initiatives and philosophy encompass all ethnic groups. https://www.nmanet.org
About Pollock Cohen LLP
Pollock Cohen LLP focuses on representing plaintiffs and protecting the public interest through impact litigation. The firm also handles a broad range of complex commercial litigation, maintains an active pro bono practice, and is a leader in whistleblower actions. https://www.pollockcohen.com.