Public health experts, who have been pushing for a menthol ban for many years, celebrated the news.
“We are delighted that the FDA is taking this important step to protect all citizens, but especially African Americans, from the deadly effects of menthol,” said Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, chief counsel for Action on Smoking and Health, a tobacco control organization. and a plaintiff in the lawsuit who contributed to the proposed ban on flavored cigarettes and cigars. The plaintiffs sued the FDA last year for inaction on menthol.
The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, the American Medical Association and the National Medical Association. The lawsuit was in part aimed at advancing a citizens’ petition to ban menthol, filed in 2013 by the Public Health Law Center and other public health organizations.
The tobacco industry and its allies were quick to criticize the FDA’s plan. In statements emailed, RJ Reynolds, which makes Newport the best-selling brand of menthol in the United States, and Altria, which produces several varieties of menthol, have made it clear that they will not sit back and would await a ban that would devastate a lot. of their activity in the United States.
“Published science does not support the regulation of menthol cigarettes any differently from non-menthol cigarettes,” said Kaelan Hollon, spokesperson for RJ Reynolds. “Scientific evidence does not show a difference in health risks between a menthol cigarette and a non-menthol cigarette, nor does it support that menthol cigarettes have a detrimental effect on initiation, addiction or stopping.
In fact, hours after the FDA’s proposal was disclosed, an organization calling itself Law Enforcement Action Partnership sent out a press release noting its opposition to the menthol ban. The organization’s tax form shows its largest donor for 2019 was Reynolds American Inc. Services Company, which gave the group $ 450,000, more than a third of its total contributions and grants reported for the year.
The group made an old and discredited argument from the tobacco industry: that efforts to ban menthol “would be bad for trust between the police and the community.”
But the FDA’s plan would only cover the manufacture, distribution, importation and sale of menthol cigarettes – without wearing or smoking them.