by Chelsey Sellars | The Center For Black Health & Equity Communications Specialist
The Food and Drug Administration is moving forward with its plans to ban menthol as a characterizing flavor in tobacco products, almost a year after the initial announcement was made.
This is a huge, historic win for Black health.
For decades, The Center for Black Health & Equity has remained vocal about the need to ban menthol, and we have mobilized to dismantle policies that favor the tobacco industry.
Today in a stakeholder’s call, Michele Matel, Acting Director for the Centers for Disease Control, underscored why this ban is essential for the advancement of health equity.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in the U.S., exacerbating health inequity. Tobacco companies have used the minty poison that is menthol to make smoking easier to start, but harder to quit.
“The majority of smokers want to quit. Prohibiting menthol in cigarettes would mean over 18 and a half million menthol cigarette smokers ages 12 and older in the United States would have a better shot at quitting,” said Matel; “this translates to better health and lower risk of premature death.”
Richardae Araojo, Associate Commissioner for Minority Health, outlined the next steps in the rule making process that will start on May 4th.
Members of the public will have the opportunity to submit either electronic or written comments directly to the dockets on the proposed rules by July 5. This will include public listening sessions, held on June 13 and June 15, which will allow the FDA to have direct engagement with affected communities and those with lived experience. This is our chance to let it be known that menthol and tobacco are not welcomed here.
The Center is committed to submitting an efficient, science-based public comment as expeditiously as possible.
For decades, the tobacco industry and its supporters have spread misinformation about the false repercussions of such a menthol ban. Claims of the development of an illegal underground market and an increase in police brutality are unsupported and denounced by the FDA.
“Implementing these rules would only address commercial activity. That is the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of these products,” said Araojo. “State and local law enforcement agencies do not independently enforce the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or FDA tobacco rules. So these entities do not and cannot enforce against any violation of the act or these regulations on FDA’s behalf.”
As we draft our public comment to the FDA, we want to hear from YOU – the partners and community members that work tirelessly to take tobacco out of our neighborhoods.
Important FDA Resources: