The U.S. FDA is Sued For Failing to Ban Menthol Cigarettes

Action on Smoking & Health, the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council and American Medical Association, joined forces in suing the FDA for failing to regulate menthol cigarettes, despite being urged by Congress to do so.

It is a well known fact that the vast majority of Black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes. “We all say Black Lives Matter, and they matter when it comes to tobacco products,” says LaTrisha Vetaw, the policy and advocacy manager at NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center in Minneapolis. Vetaw was involved in devising a 2018 city ordinance that restricts where menthol-flavored tobacco products can be sold in Minneapolis. Similarly, she had worked on a statewide bill to ban the products altogether.

Meanwhile last June, Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) and the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, joined forces in suing the FDA for failing to regulate menthol cigarettes, despite being urged by Congress to do so. On September 3rd, the American Medical Association (AMA) joined the suit as a co-plaintiff. “The world is moving in this direction, against menthol” said Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, managing attorney at ASH.

AMA President Dr. Susan R. Bailey, added that it is time Big Tobacco is stopped from preying on the African American community. “For generations, tobacco companies have promoted menthol cigarettes to the African American community, preying especially on African American youth,” she said. “The results are clear and grim; although African Americans usually smoke fewer cigarettes and start smoking at an older age, they are more likely than Whites to die from smoking-related diseases like heart disease and stroke.”

EU menthol cigarettes’ ban

Ironically, while the FDA retains a relatively relaxed stance on menthol cigarettes, it has been focusing all its efforts on setting in place all sorts of restrictions on flavoured vaping products, despite all the data indicating their relative safety. In contrast earlier this year, the European Union Revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) banned the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes across Europe.

Despite Brexit, this ban also applies to the UK and includes capsule, click on, click & roll, crushball or dual menthol cigarettes, and excludes vaping and heated tobacco products. The measure went into effect on the 20th of May, and anyone caught selling the products across the EU can now face a fine of up to €1,000.

Read Further: Bloomberg Businessweek

UK: PHE to Investigate ‘New Dual’ Range Replacing Menthol Tobacco

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