WASHINGTON, DC | August 1, 2023
Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ended the public comment period on two pivotal rules aimed at ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, tobacco products that have long posed significant risks to public health. In response to these rules still under FDA review, the American Lung Association’s National President and CEO Harold Wimmer issued the following statement:
"Ending the sale of these deadly flavored tobacco products is a crucial step in protecting public health and achieving a tobacco-free future, particularly for Black and Brown communities.
“As we mark the one-year anniversary of the end of the FDA comment period on two proposed rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, the Lung Association urges the Biden administration to finalize both rules, now.
“Tobacco companies have been systematically targeting Black American communities with menthol products, exacerbating existing health disparities and perpetuating a cycle of addiction, illness and premature death. While the tobacco industry tries to undermine these rules, ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars is not just a public health imperative; it is a moral obligation to protect the well-being of all Americans.
“In response to the 2022 proposals, the American Lung Association, in unison with numerous healthcare professionals and more than 100 public health, consumer, and health justice organizations, rallied in support of these vital regulatory changes. Tens of thousands of constituent comments were delivered, emphasizing the overwhelming public demand for an end to the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.
“The consequences of tobacco use are undeniably severe, contributing to over 480,000 preventable deaths each year in the United States alone. Research indicates that prohibiting the sale of menthol cigarettes would yield a substantial number of smokers ending their addiction. One study estimated that almost one million smokers would give up smoking within 17 months of halting the sale menthol cigarettes, with a particularly noteworthy impact on the Black American community, resulting in nearly a quarter of a million people quitting.
“Comparable experiences, like Canada's elimination of menthol cigarette sales in 2017, demonstrated a clear positive outcome. The country witnessed increased quit attempts and cessation among menthol smokers, further validating the efficacy of such regulations in promoting public health and curbing tobacco addiction. The evidence is clear – stopping the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars will save lives, reduce health disparities, and empower individuals to live healthier, smokefree lives.
“The American Lung Association urges the Biden administration to act expeditiously to finalize the rules. We can’t afford to wait any longer to protect the public from these dangerous flavored tobacco products.”
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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