Lives on the Line as White House Continues to Delay Finalizing Rules on Menthol in Cigarettes and Flavors in Cigars

Ending the sale of menthol in cigarettes and flavors in cigars is necessary step in achieving White House Cancer Moonshot Goals

December 6, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Nearly two years after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its proposed rules to eliminate menthol in cigarettes and all flavors in cigars, the administration/White House announced today it will further delay release of final rules. Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), released the following statement:

“Almost two years ago, FDA took a crucial step forward to address the harmful impacts of tobacco and reduce the industry’s predatory targeting of youth and Black Americans with their deadly products by releasing proposed rules to eliminate menthol flavoring in cigarettes and all flavors in cigars. But continued delays in finalizing these rules undermine potential public health gains by perpetuating cancer disparities that will lead to more lives lost from tobacco-related disease.

“Americans have already waited far too long for our leaders to take action to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars given FDA has had the authority to do so for 14 years. The White House’s continued delay in finalizing these rules only benefits the tobacco industry at the expense of public health by allowing the continuation of aggressive marketing tactics of these deadly products to our youth, Black communities and many more.

“Tobacco is a primary driver of all cancer disparities, and the number one cause of cancer deaths nationwide, and flavors like menthol have been proven to make it easier to start and harder to quit using deadly products. There is no scientific rationale for permitting any flavored tobacco product to remain on the market. FDA stated that a comprehensive end to the sale of menthol cigarettes is projected to result in 324,000 to 654,000 fewer smoking related deaths.

“For decades, the tobacco industry has deliberately and aggressively worked to addict Black communities, as well as LGBTQ+ and limited income communities, with menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars through targeted advertising in magazines, events, and neighborhoods.

“The tobacco industry also knows flavored cigars hook young tobacco users and create lifetime customers. New national data released this November showed an estimated 420,000 U.S. students are currently using cigars. These products include cigars, cigarillos and little cigars which are sold in appealing flavors such as menthol, banana, mango, grape, Tropical Twist, Purple Swish and chocolate.

“The time for action is now. The administration has an opportunity to leave a significant, lasting public health legacy, save lives and reach the Cancer Moonshot goals by finalizing these rules as written by the end of the calendar year. Any further delay will only lead to more needless illness and suffering. ACS CAN stands ready to work with the administration to support implementation of the rules.”