By Keisha N. Brown
After more than a decade of inaction and a citizens’ petition lawsuit brought by the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) and its partners, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the American Medical Association, and the National Medical Association, the FDA is finally moving a proposed national ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes and flavored cigars.
While the proposed ban wouldn’t take effect for at least two years, this move is a major win for Black health in America.
For decades, Big Tobacco has used menthol-flavored tobacco products and flavored cigars to target African Americans. Eighty-five percent of all African American smokers smoke menthol cigarettes compared to 29% of white smokers. Menthol cigarettes increase addiction and make it harder to quit.
“We are working towards a day where no Black people in America die from preventable deaths due to tobacco,” explained AATCLC Co-Chair Carol McGruder. “This critical move in the rule-making process by the FDA helps make that day a reality.”
In order to ensure loopholes do not exist to allow Big Tobacco to continue to hook Black Americans with these products, AATCLC is urging the FDA to expand their rule to ban menthol, not just as a characterizing flavor, but as an ingredient altogether.
Formed in 2008 and based in California, the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council is one of the country’s leading public health education and advocacy organization taking on Big Tobacco to save Black lives. The AATCLC works at the intersection of social injustice and public health policy. Working with health jurisdictions, elected officials, community-based organizations, tobacco researchers, activists, and the media, the AATCLC is leading the fight to end the sale of menthol and all flavored tobacco products.
Learn more at www.savingblacklives.org.
Keisha Brown is a media relations liaison for the African American Tobacco Control Leadership
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