Members of Congressional Black Caucus Call on FDA to Finalize Menthol Flavor Rule by August 23 Deadline

Menthol cigarettes proven to disproportionately impact the health of the Black community, especially youth

August 2, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C.August 2, 2023 – This week, 32 members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) sent a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Robert M. Califf, MD, urging the FDA to finalize the proposed rule to remove menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes.

The members addressed how menthol cigarettes disproportionately and negatively impact the health of the Black community and pointed to a 2020 study that showed while overall, approximately 43% of adults who smoke used menthol cigarettes in the past month, over 80% of Black adults who smoke used menthol cigarettes. This is the direct result of decades of the tobacco industry deliberately targeting Black Americans with marketing for menthol cigarettes.

The letter states, “for too long, tobacco companies have been enabled to promote menthol cigarettes to the Black community, preying particularly on Black youth. We urge the FDA to continue to follow the science and move swiftly to implement the ban and remove these harmful products from the market without further delay.”

Lisa A. Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), issued the following statement:

“We applaud the members of the CBC for joining us in calling on the FDA to finalize menthol rules immediately.

“The tobacco industry has long used unethical tactics to specifically target Black youth, including marketing intentionally designed to attract students.

“With America’s children preparing to return to school this month, the FDA must act to protect them from being lured into using these highly addictive products.”