Public health groups are sounding the alarm about the tobacco industry’s recent lobbying efforts targeting the FDA’s proposed ban on menthol cigarettes. Last week, executives and lobbyists from major tobacco companies met with White House officials to voice opposition to this policy change. It appears Big Tobacco is attempting an eleventh-hour push to derail the menthol ban before the FDA’s end-of-year deadline.
Health and advocacy groups argue the proposed ban should move forward without delay. Menthol cigarettes, which make up over 30 percent of the cigarette market, have been shown to be more addictive and harder to quit. For decades, tobacco companies have aggressively marketed menthol products to youth, minorities and other vulnerable populations.
Public health experts estimate eliminating menthol cigarettes could save 654,000 lives over time. This includes 255,000 Black Americans, as 85 percent of Black smokers use menthol brand cigarettes which have been aggressively targeted at the Black community for decades. Ultimately, finalizing the menthol ban would result in tremendous health gains and greater health equity across populations.
Anti-smoking advocates argue the science and public health rationale clearly support banning menthol flavoring in cigarettes. However, Big Tobacco is determined not to lose its lucrative menthol market share without a fight. By lobbying the White House, tobacco interests hope to contradict the FDA’s own scientific review process which already determined a menthol ban would benefit public health.
Concerned citizens should make their voices heard by contacting the White House to counter balance tobacco industry fear-mongering. You can call 202-456-1111 to leave a comment urging the Administration to move ahead with the menthol ban despite cigarette company propaganda. With steadfast leadership, eliminating menthol flavored cigarettes can become a reality by the established end-of-year deadline, paving the path for healthier communities nationwide.