Banning Menthol Cigarettes

September 27, 2021

ACS CAN supports banning menthol flavor in tobacco products as part of a comprehensive flavor ban.  Support of this ban included filing a citizens' petition at the FDA with other health groups in 2013, and supplementing that petition with updated scientific data in January of 2021.  The African American Tobacco Leadership Council and other groups used this petition as the basis for a lawsuit against the agency filed in June of 2020.  In response to the lawsuit, FDA announced in April of 2020 that it would grant the petition and begin a rulemaking to ban menthol.  However, it has not yet published a draft rule.  ACS CAN filed an amicus brief in the case of African American Tobacco Leadership Council v Dept. of Health and Human Services supporting public health groups' lawsuit against HHS and FDA in order to force FDA to ban menthol flavor in combustible cigarettes. 

The government claims that the lawsuit should be dismissed based on its stated intention.  Our brief argues that the serious and ongoing harm to public health from menthol cigarettes supports continued judicial oversight until FDA has completed the rulemaking process, as well as provides scientific data on how menthol increases youth initiation of smoking, increases addiction and reduces cessation, and has led to significant health disparities for African Americans. It also provides data on the continuing aggressive marketing of menthol cigarettes, and advocates for a court-ordered timeline for regulatory proceedings.