In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act made the sale of most flavored additives, including fruit and candy flavoring, illegal in the United States. This was done in order to protect youth and young adults.
However, the law exempted menthol-flavored cigarettes, which are preferred by most youth and young adult tobacco users because they are perceived as less harsh and easier to smoke.
The evidence that menthol needs to be banned is clear. And the FDA can choose to ban it. This is doubly important to do because menthol is disproportionately used by people of color and vulnerable populations. As just two examples: 84% of all African Americans who smoke and 71% of LGBT youth who smoke are using menthol cigarettes.
Banning menthol saves lives and money and makes sense. A recent study found that simply removing menthol from cigarettes should save 600,000 lives by 2050.
WE NEED TO ACT! Join the list of individuals, organization, government agencies, and others calling on the FDA to remove menthol flavoring from tobacco products!
- Director for the Office of Science, FDA
Dr. David Ashley
- Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
- Director of the Center for Tobacco Products, FDA
Dr. Deyton Lawrence
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed into law in June 2009, gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products. The law made the sale of most flavored additives including fruit and candy flavoring illegal in order to protect youth and young adults, however the law exempted menthol-flavored cigarettes. Menthol flavored cigarettes and other tobacco products are preferred by most youth and young adult tobacco users because they are perceived as less harsh and easier to smoke.
Recently, the Surgeon General released a report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. In this report, it was stated that:
• A higher percentage of adolescent and young adult smokers smoke mentholated cigarettes than any other age group. (page 178)
• Mentholated flavoring increases the addictive potential of smoking among youth. (page 178)
• Menthol and other flavor additives including fruit and candy flavoring were used as marketing tools to attract young smokers. (page 600)
• By the mid-1970s tobacco industry marketing research found that menthol cigarettes
"were popular among young smokers because they were perceived as less harsh and easier to smoke." (page 537)
• National surveys "confirm that menthol cigarette use is disproportionately common among younger and newer adolescent smokers." (page 600)
• Tobacco companies use menthol to increase the appeal of smokeless tobacco products to young people. (page 600)
• Evidence indicates that highly addictive, smooth tasting tobacco products like menthol cigarettes increase the likelihood that tobacco will be consumed by young people. (page 851)
Last year, the Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) recommended the “removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace” to the Food and Drug Administration: (USFDA 2011b, p. 225) because of the serious public health threat that they present to society. In addition, a study published in the May 2011 American Journal of Public Health found removing menthol could save more than 600,000 smoking related premature deaths by 2050. Finally, the government of Brazil set a precedent by banning menthol from all tobacco products on March 16 of this year (Resolution RDC No 14 of 15). Brazil’s action is intended to protect the youth of that country from tobacco initiation, and is based on the rationale that “the additives used are what lure many young people to start the bad habit in the first place.”
Take Action - Support the Removal of Menthol from all Tobacco Products:
WE NEED YOUR HELP! Join the list of individuals, organization, government agencies, and others calling on the FDA to remove menthol flavoring from tobacco products! Sign the petition below!
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