Lung Association: FDA Proposal to End Sale of Menthol Cigarettes and Flavored Cigars will Save Lives, Help Promote Health Equity

Lung Association Urges Biden Administration to Finalize Rules by End of 2022

Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced two proposed rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. The American Lung Association’s National President and CEO Harold Wimmer issued the following statement: 

“Ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars will save lives. It will also help reduce the unjust disparities in tobacco use, primarily caused by the tobacco companies targeting vulnerable communities with menthol cigarettes. When finalized, we believe this will be the single most significant action taken by FDA in its almost 13-year history of regulating tobacco products.

“Menthol cigarettes make it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. That is why flavors, including menthol, are one of the primary reasons kids start using tobacco products. Currently, nearly 19 million people smoke menthol cigarettes. The use of menthol is highest among Black and Brown communities and the lesbian, gay and bisexual population.

“Ending the sale of both menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars is pivotal in efforts to eliminate the dramatic health inequities in who uses tobacco in the U.S. The efforts of Big Tobacco to market and sell menthol cigarettes to Black Americans have contributed to significant health disparities: 81% of Black smokers use menthol cigarettes. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death among Black Americans, claiming 45,000 Black lives every year. Black men have the highest rates of lung cancer in the U.S., and Black middle and high school students smoke flavored cigars at rates higher than cigarettes. These statistics did not happen by accident. They are the results of decades of marketing directed at Black communities by the tobacco industry. Halting the sale of these flavored tobacco products lays the groundwork for reversing decades of disparities in tobacco use, disease and death in Black and Brown communities.

“Research shows that ending the sale of menthol cigarettes would result in a significant number of people quitting smoking. One study estimates almost one million smokers would quit smoking within 17 months of the end of the sale of menthol cigarettes, including almost a quarter of a million Black Americans. After Canada stopped selling menthol cigarettes in 2017, the country saw an increase in quit attempts and cessation among menthol smokers.

“We thank the Biden Administration for advancing these important public health measures, which have lagged for more than a decade. We urge them to move quickly to finalize these rules by the end of the year. Furthermore, we urge FDA to remove all menthol cigarettes from the marketplace including those that have received modified risk or exposure orders or authorizations.”

For media interested in speaking with an expert, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or at 312-940-7001. 

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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