A lawsuit was filed last week by Action on Smoking and Health and the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes.
Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act a decade ago. The act directed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to address the impact of menthol cigarettes on public health.
The FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee concluded in 2011 that menthol cigarettes should be removed from the marketplace. Two years later, another FDA report stated menthol cigarettes led to greater addiction, decreased success in quitting smoking, and more young people smoking.
Multiple organizations have petitioned the FDA to act and release the most recent scientific evidence.
“The FDA’s repeated failure to prohibit menthol cigarettes has cost lives,” Matthew L. Myers, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president, said. “By acting now to prohibit menthol cigarettes, the FDA can save lives – especially black lives – and take a significant step to address the shocking health disparities that plague our nation.”
Annually, 45,000 African-Americans smokers die. A total of 85 percent smoked menthols as do seven out of ten African-American youth smokers. In addition, African Americans quit smoking at lower rates than other groups and suffer high rates of tobacco-related diseases.