Tobacco company marketing and promotion campaigns disproportionately target African Americans, who suffer greatest burden of tobacco-related mortality of any ethnic or racial group in the U.S.


Washington (August 22, 2017) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today led a group of U.S. Senators in calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban menthol cigarettes. In 2011, the FDA conducted a scientific review that concluded “that menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with non-menthol cigarettes.” Despite this finding and other supporting data, the FDA has yet to take action to address the risk of menthol in cigarettes. Recently, the agency indicated it would open another public comment period on menthol, an activity that will serve to further delay any action to protect public health from the dangers of menthol cigarettes. In their letter to FDA, the Senators point to one model that found that because of the availability of menthol cigarettes, nine million individuals would initiate smoking between 2010 and 2050. Another model showed that hundreds of thousands of deaths would be averted by removing menthol. The FDA’s own scientific assessment also found that menthol cigarettes frequently serve as a starter product for youth, are associated with increased nicotine dependence in young smokers, and make it more difficult to quit smoking.


“As Senators committed to the FDA’s mission to protect public health, we believe it is time for the FDA to act on the substantial scientific data and use the authority provided by the Tobacco Control Act to remove menthol cigarettes from the marketplace,” write the Senators in the letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “Continued delay on this issue will only further worsen this public health crisis, as a new generation of smokers are initiated and become addicted to menthol cigarettes.”


A copy of the letter to the FDA can be found HERE.


Also signing the letter are Senator Patty Murray (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).