The American Medical Association has joined the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council in suing the Food and Drug Administration on their inaction to ban menthol-flavored tobacco products which have been heavily marketed by cigarette companies to Black communities for decades.
Cristine Delnevo, director of the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies and a professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health, recently published three studies showing that menthol cigarette smoking persists in the United States, particularly among vulnerable populations, despite population-level cigarette declines. Another co-authored paper with Ollie Ganz, an instructor at the Rutgers School of Public Health and a researcher at the tobacco center, called for a ban of menthol cigarettes, saying banning the product should be considered a social justice issue. They both discuss why actions at the state and federal level need to be taken to make the ban a reality.
Why should menthol cigarettes concern public health officials?
Delnevo: The FDA’s Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) was tasked by Congress to review the scientific evidence of menthol cigarette use among specific groups given the high use rates among youth smokers and Black smokers. It concluded that menthol in cigarettes reduced the harshness of smoking and was associated with increased initiation, higher dependence and had lower quit success.
The continued availability of menthol cigarettes in the U.S. should be viewed as a social justice issue. The majority of Black smokers in the U.S. smoke menthol cigarettes and there is extensive research showing that the