American Lung Association Applauds Biden Administration’s Menthol Cigarettes and Flavored Cigars Announcement; Urges FDA to Act without Delay

Ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and most flavored cigars will save millions of lives, reduce health disparities and prevent kids from beginning tobacco addiction

In response to the announcement that FDA will propose two rules to remove menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars from the marketplace, American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer issued the following statement:

“For generations, the tobacco industry has intentionally targeted Black, Brown and other communities with the marketing of menthol cigarettes, resulting in tobacco-related death and disease as well as health disparities. In fact, 82% of Black people who smoke use menthol cigarettes. It has also marketed menthol cigarettes to our nation’s youth, and now close to half of all kids start smoking with menthol cigarettes. To prevent tobacco-related death and disease, the American Lung Association has urged the end of menthol sales since 2011, and today welcomes this announcement as an important step to address tobacco-related health disparities.

“Removing menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars has the potential to save millions of lives. Ending the sale of these products will stop kids from being lured by these flavors and becoming addicted, and also encourage tobacco users to quit, especially Black Americans.
“Included in this announcement is ending the sale of flavored cigars, which have been targeted to kids by the tobacco industry. In fact, the tobacco industry introduced many of these products when most flavored cigarettes were removed in 2009. Removing these products closes these loopholes and halts the tobacco industry from using these flavored cigars to hook kids.

“The American Lung Association continues to urge swift FDA action to remove all flavored tobacco products from the marketplace, including all mint and menthol e-cigarettes. It’s especially critical for FDA to include all menthol cigars and cigarillos at the same time it removes menthol cigarettes, recognizing that the tobacco industry will discourage people from quitting and instead they would urge menthol users to switch to other menthol products. It is also imperative that FDA not authorize any menthol flavored e-cigarettes or other flavored tobacco products during its premarket tobacco review period.   

“We expect the tobacco industry to throw everything they have at stopping this bold, game-changing proposals but President Biden and his Administration should not be deterred. As our nation works to address a myriad of racial inequities, it can and must also address the public health injustices caused by the tobacco industry targeting Black and Brown communities with menthol cigarettes. In the meantime, while we wait for a rule to be enacted, we urge states and localities to take immediate action to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes, cigars and other flavored tobacco products.

“The American Lung Association stands ready to help all tobacco users quit, including menthol smokers, with proven effective quit smoking methods. We also call for an increase in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ‘Tips From Former Smokers’ campaign and state quit lines so people can speak with someone when they call 1-800-QUIT NOW to get help quitting. In addition, we urge Congress to pass the bipartisan ‘Quit Because of COVID-19 Act’ to ensure that the millions of people enrolled in Medicaid have access to a comprehensive quit smoking benefit.”

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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