Feb 25, 2021 - Health

Anti-tobacco organizations call on FDA to ban menthol cigarettes

Illustration of a burning menthol cigarette producing ash in the shape of tombstones

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public health advocates are pressing the Food and Drug Administration to ban menthol-flavored tobacco products, years after other flavors were banned.

The big picture: Congress gave menthol a pass when it banned flavored cigarettes in 2009, but advocates are highlighting the products' disproportionate use among Black smokers, at a time when policymakers are especially attuned to racial inequities in health.

  • A new report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids highlights tobacco companies' aggressive marketing of menthol cigarettes, which can be more harmful than non-menthol products, in Black communities.
  • Massachusetts and California have already banned menthol cigarettes; Connecticut and Maryland are considering similar laws.

What's next: The FDA has said it will make a decision by late April, in response to a lawsuit filed by public health advocates.

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