smoking, menthol, cigarettes

Anti-Smoking Groups File Lawsuit Against Government Over Delay On Menthol Ban

The Black community is disproportionately negatively affected by the use of menthol cigarettes.

On April 9, anti-smoking groups launched lawsuits against the U.S. government over the delay in passing a proposed ban on menthol cigarettes. 

The Food and Drug Administration has been trying to pass a similar ban on menthol cigarettes for nearly 15 years, considering that “300,000 to 650,000” smoking deaths could be prevented over the course of a few decades. The lawsuit pointed out that the tobacco industry’s lobby has made it difficult for advocates and lawmakers to pass the bill.

A big component of pushing the ban on menthols is the disproportionate effect on Black Americans. In the 1960s, advertisements specifically pushed menthol to Black people. The targeted marketing was successful, causing “1.5 million Black Americans to begin smoking menthols.” As a result, nearly 200,000 Black Americans died from smoking-related health issues. Back in 2020, out of all smokers, 81% of Black people smoked menthol cigarettes, while 34% of white people did.

Dr. Yolanda Lawson, the president of the National Medical Association, said in a statement, “As African American physicians, we are deeply disturbed at the continuing delays in FDA’s finalizing of the ban on menthol cigarettes.” 

She continued, “Our patients, more than any other group, become disabled and die prematurely due to the continued use of these cigarettes.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of all people who smoke cigarettes started while they were still adolescents and continued consistently smoking to adulthood. 

“The FDA’s research confirms that a menthol ban would save lives,” the Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health Laurent Huber told the public. “There is no scientific reason to delay finalizing this rule.

Overall, cigarette smoking has decreased over the past two decades, but there has been an increase in menthol smokers, specifically among young adults, racial minorities, women, and people with mental health issues.

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