The Food and Drug Administration’s commitment to ban menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars marks a historic milestone for our nation’s public health, representing an important step toward addressing health disparities.
Nearly 18.6 million people report smoking menthol cigarettes in the United States. However, use of menthol cigarettes is uneven across our communities — nearly 85% of Black smokers use menthol cigarettes as compared to 30% of white smokers. Additionally, nearly 74% of youth who use cigars say they do so because cigars come in flavors that appeal to them. FDA’s commitment to ban menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars will help eliminate these persistent tobacco-related health disparities across the nation.
“The science is clear,” said David Grossman, MD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente’s interim senior vice president for social and community health. “Menthol cigarettes are more addictive, harder to quit, and marketed to youth and especially people of color. Removing flavored products from the market will reduce tobacco-related health disparities and prevent a new generation of kids from becoming addicted for a lifetime.”
For many years, Kaiser Permanente has supported removing all flavored tobacco products from the market, including menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes. Recently, we supported a ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products in California and we continue to work alongside organizations including the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, The Center for Black Health and Equity, Action on Smoking and Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and the American Heart Association to draw attention to the unique public health threats caused by menthol cigarettes.