White House Could Miss a Historic Opportunity to Save Lives if Rules on Menthol in Cigarettes and Flavors in Cigars are not Finalized Immediately

ACS CAN Calls on the Administration to Eliminate Menthol Flavoring in Cigarettes and All Flavors in Cigars on the Second Anniversary of the Proposed Rules

April 26, 2024

In 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released proposed rules to eliminate menthol flavoring in cigarettes and all flavors in cigars. Almost two years later, the public health community is still waiting for the FDA to finalize these lifesaving rules. This inaction only benefits Big Tobacco, who continues to target Black communities and younger generations with its aggressive marketing tactics. In anticipation of the two-year anniversary of the FDA’s proposed rules, Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), released the following statement:

“Two years ago, the FDA demonstrated an unwavering commitment to public health by proposing bold rules to eliminate menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Taking these deadly products off the market could save as many as 654,000 lives, including the lives of more than 238,000 African Americans, over the next 40 years, according to modeling studies.

“Unfortunately, the possibility of this administration making these rules a reality is shrinking with the passage of time, and ACS CAN is calling on the administration to not miss the opportunity to make a historic gain in the fight against cancer.

“Prohibiting menthol flavoring in cigarettes is also a key step towards addressing health disparities, given the tobacco industry has deliberately and aggressively marketed its products to communities of color, LBGTQ+ individuals and people with limited incomes. As a result, Black people consistently report the highest prevalence of menthol cigarette use, with 83.1% of Black people who smoke using menthol cigarettes, in comparison to 48% of Hispanic people who smoke, 56.5% of Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander people who smoke and 31.6% of White people who smoke.

“We remain concerned about the intention of Big Tobacco to create a new generation of people who are addicted to their products by targeting youth with their cigars, cigarillos, and little cigars, which are sold in appealing flavors such as menthol, banana, mango, grape, Tropical Twist, Purple Swish and chocolate. Data show that as many as 420,000 U.S. students used cigars in 2023, with Black and Hispanic students being twice as likely to smoke cigars than their White counterparts.

“There is no scientific justification to continue allowing the sale of these deadly products. Our communities cannot wait any longer for the administration to step up and do what is right to save lives from tobacco use, and ACS CAN is pleading for the White House to leave the rhetoric aside and follow the evidence that calls for the immediate finalization of these crucial rules.”

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