Washington, D.C. – April 29, 2021 – The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) applauds today’s proposal by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the White House to ban menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and all characterizing flavors (including menthol) in cigars.
This long-awaited historic action will help reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality, particularly among Black communities who are the largest users of menthol tobacco products and have been targeted in tobacco marketing for years.
Menthol cigarettes are more addictive, harder for smokers to quit, and lead to tobacco-related diseases like cancer, heart disease, and stroke. A 2021 study published in the journal Tobacco Control estimated that from 1980-2018 menthol cigarettes were responsible for 10.1 million extra smokers, 378,000 premature deaths, and 3 million lives lost.
“We urge FDA to move quickly to finalize this regulation and eliminate menthol as a major contributor to the deadly and disproportionate health impact on Black Americans,” says Dr. Deborah Fortune, SOPHE President. “Eliminating menthol and flavored cigars is also a major step forward in protecting future generations, given that nearly half of current youth cigarette users smoked menthol cigarettes in 2018 and cigars were the most commonly used tobacco product among Black high school students in 2020.”
SOPHE is a longtime advocate for comprehensive evidence-based tobacco cessation and control policies, including its resolution calling for the exercise of full FDA authority over menthol cigarettes and cigars based on the Surgeon General’s 50th Anniversary Report on Smoking and Health.
SOPHE also urges additional federal action to raise the minimum age of tobacco and nicotine delivery products to 21 years of age and FDA regulation of the sales and marketing of electronic nicotine delivery systems, including a ban on sales and marketing to minors.
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