FDA actions on menthol and cigars far-reaching

Date: Apr 29 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media Relations, 202-777-3913  

Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD

The Food and Drug Administration’s announcement of proposed rules to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavorings in cigars are consequential and far-reaching.

We fully support the FDA’s stand on these rules, the fact that enforcement is aimed specifically at the tobacco industry, not individual consumers, and its view that these actions could reduce death and disease by curtailing young people who may want to experiment with tobacco and prompting many existing smokers to quit.

The tobacco industry has long targeted Black Americans, other communities of color, underserved populations and youth to promote and market menthol-flavored tobacco products. Of all Black smokers, 85% use menthol cigarettes–a grim statistic since many in this community are much less likely than white Americans to be diagnosed with lung cancer at an earlier, more preventable stage.

The American Public Health Association has long supported regulatory changes to end tobacco use in this country. The science is overwhelming about the addictiveness and harm of tobacco products. In fact, tobacco use is the leading cause of cancer and cancer deaths in the U.S., according to the FDA. More than a half million U.S. youth use flavored cigars. Recently, more young people are trying a cigar on any given day than trying a cigarette. 

A year ago, we applauded the FDA for its intent to ban menthol cigarettes as life-saving, particularly among youth because its minty flavor and aroma makes smoking more appealing and, at the same time, makes it harder for them to quit smoking. 

The fight against smoking is ongoing, but the FDA’s proposed rules on the tobacco industry and retailers are another major step for public health and a clear sign of progress. 

We strongly encourage the FDA to finalize, implement and enforce these rules as soon as possible to improve the nation’s health and ultimately save lives.

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.