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April 30, 2021

Statement from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School and the Institute for Global Tobacco Control on a Ban on Menthol Cigarettes

We welcome and support the Food and Drug Administration’s plan to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars announced this week.

This action is an important step in preventing deaths, improving health outcomes, and addressing health disparities, especially for Black Americans. The tobacco industry has primarily marketed these products to Black consumers, leading to greater negative outcomes for communities of color and low-income populations.

Menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars hide the harshness and taste of smoke. With this ban, the FDA increases the chances of smokers deciding to quit while also reducing the likelihood for initiation. When ban is enacted, it will immediately improve thousands of lives, particularly for youth and adolescents who never start smoking.

The FDA action will help the U.S. catch up to other countries that have already taken this important step to reduce death and disease from tobacco products. Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have all previously banned menthol cigarettes. Thousands of lives could have been saved if menthol were included in the flavored-cigarette ban that passed in 2009 in this country.

We look forward to a rulemaking process free from interference from the tobacco industry. The ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigarettes is a critical, long-overdue advance for U.S. public health.

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Media contacts: Robin Scullin at rsculli@jhu.edu or Barbara Benham at bbenham1@jhu.edu