SACRAMENTO—Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a monumental step to end the sale of the last allowable flavor – minty-menthol flavored cigarettes and flavored cigars – that Big Tobacco has used for decades to prey on and hook people, especially youth, communities of color, low-income populations and LGBTQ+ individuals, on nicotine. Banning menthol will help save lives and prevent future generations of smokers, particularly among those disproportionately affected by these deadly products.
In its announcement today, FDA specifically stated that “For far too long, certain populations, including African Americans, have been targeted, and disproportionately impacted by tobacco use.”
I have been fighting against tobacco use for decades, first as a dentist who has seen the ravages of tobacco use and also as a legislator and chair of the Assembly Health Committee, where I have been one of the leaders in the fight to pass California's bipartisan and overwhelmingly popular law to protect kids from getting hooked on candy- and menthol-flavored tobacco products. I had hoped, though, that FDA would take a bolder step to ban menthol flavors for e-cigarettes because we all know e-cigarettes are a huge starting point for our youth.
The FDA efforts to establish new product standards that will ban these products have the potential to significantly reduce youth initiation, increase the chances of smoking cessation among current smokers, and address health disparities. Big Tobacco is already spending millions to overturn that law, and they will spend millions more to stop the FDA’s action, too. That’s why California must continue the fight Big Tobacco’s deception, by urging local governments to quickly join over 100 municipalities that have taken action to end the sale of flavored nicotine like minty-menthol cigarettes and candy-flavored e-cigarettes. The health and well-being of generations to come depend on it.
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