Menthol is a public health menace that has contributed to youth smoking initiation and has exacerbated health disparities, particularly for African Americans


More than half of youth e-cigarette users use mint and menthol flavored e-cigarettes

Washington (December 21, 2018) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) led a group of a dozen Senators in calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to swiftly implement its proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and cigars. The letter comes in response to the FDA’s November 15 announcement to ban mentholated combustible tobacco products and to restrict youth access to some flavored e-cigarettes.

“Prohibiting menthol in cigarettes, cigars, and other combustible tobacco products will produce enormous gains to public health, particularly for youth and African Americans who disproportionately experience the harm caused by menthol products,” write the Senators in their letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “We applaud the FDA for using the authority Congress gave the agency to address the serious negative consequences of menthol, and encourage FDA to likewise remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market until or unless they have undergone a thorough FDA review that shows they are of benefit to the public health.”

The Tobacco Control Act of 2009 mandated the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) to study the public health impact of menthol. In 2011, TPSAC issued a report and concluded that “removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health.” The FDA took initial steps to address these findings in 2013, but has not taken any further action until this year. Last year, Senator Markey led a group of Senators in calling on the FDA to ban menthol cigarettes, citing the lack of action the agency has taken to address this public health risk.

In the letter, the Senators also urge the agency to ban all flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol e-cigarettes, from the market until the agency is able to conduct a review of their public health impact. The 2018 Monitoring the Future Survey and 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey both recently reported a concerning spike in youth e-cigarette use. On the heels of these reports, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory highlighting the dangers of the “e-cigarette epidemic among youth.”

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

Also signing the letter are Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).