She cited research estimates that banning menthol would prevent 630,000 tobacco-related deaths over 40 years, more than a third of them among African Americans.
Menthol is the only cigarette flavor that was not banned under the 2009 law that gave the FDA authority over tobacco products, an exemption negotiated by industry lobbyists. The act did, though, instruct the agency to continue to weigh banning menthol.
The flavor’s persistence has infuriated anti-smoking advocates, who point to research that menthol’s numbing effect masks the harshness of smoking, likely making it easier to start and harder to quit.
The mint-flavored cigarettes are overwhelmingly used by young people and minorities, particularly Black smokers, 85% of whom smoke menthols. That compares to about a third of white smokers.
“The science is there, the data is there, so why are these products still on the market?” said Carol McGruder of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council.
Her group sued along with Action on Smoking and Health, the American Medical Association and the National Medical Association, which represents Black physicians. After the FDA announcement the groups promised to keep pushing for swift implementation: “this is not the end of this fight, only the next stage.”
For decades, companies focused menthol marketing and promotions on Black communities, including sponsoring music festivals and neighborhood events. Company documents released via 1990s litigation also show companies viewed menthol cigarettes as good “starter” products because they were more palatable for teenagers .
Originally Appeared On: https://richmond.com/business/us-vows-again-to-ban-menthol-flavor-in-cigarettes-cigars/article_c14e8a6c-0341-5288-a203-f302dc104f83.html