American Lung Association Calls for Swift FDA Action to Remove Menthol Cigarettes from the Marketplace

New FDA Report Concludes Menthol Cigarettes are a Greater Threat to Public Health

Washington, D.C. (July 23, 2013)

The American Lung Association is calling for menthol cigarettes to quickly be removed from the marketplace in light of a new report released today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA examined a number of factors that affect the public health impact of menthol cigarettes and ultimately concluded that the consequences of menthol cigarettes to public health are greater than cigarettes without menthol as a characterizing flavor. Other findings include that menthol in cigarettes is more likely to lead to new users, primarily youth, starting to smoke as well as them becoming regular users; leads to increased smoking dependence; and makes it harder for existing smokers, especially African Americans, to quit. FDA also found that younger smokers, African American and other minority smokers, and female smokers are also more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes.

“In light of these strong and conclusive findings, any lingering questions can be put to rest about the public health consequences of menthol cigarettes and their impact on the nation’s leading cause of preventable death,” said Paul G. Billings, Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Education for the American Lung Association. “The findings make clear that menthol cigarettes contribute to the more than 1,000 children who become regular, daily smokers each day. There is no doubt that FDA’s removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would be appropriate for the protection of public health, which is the standard by which FDA’s tobacco regulatory efforts must abide. Further delays from FDA will continue to endanger public health.”

FDA’s findings are consistent with those from the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, which in a report issued in March 2011 concluded, “Removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States.” The expert advisory committee stated in that report that its recommendation to remove menthol cigarettes from the marketplace came based on evidence that menthol cigarettes increase the number of children who experiment with cigarettes and the number of children who become regular smokers, increasing overall youth smoking. It also concluded that the availability of menthol cigarettes reduces smoking cessation, especially among African-Americans, and increases the overall prevalence of smoking among African Americans. It found that “menthol cigarettes are marketed disproportionately to younger smokers” and “disproportionately marketed per capita to African Americans.”

Earlier this year, the American Lung Association jointly filed a citizen’s petition with the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium and more than 30 other public health and medical partners with FDA, urging the agency to act to remove menthol cigarettes.

After the 60 day public comment period, it will be incumbent on FDA to move quickly to remove menthol cigarettes from the marketplace.

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About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org.