Statement: Public health advocates applaud FDA’s proposed rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars

Media Contacts
Matt Wellington

Former Director, Public Health Campaigns, PIRG

WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced proposed rules on Thursday that would end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars nationwide. The FDA’s action comes after years of outcry from public health officials and advocates about the dangers of these tobacco products. 

Menthol, a chemical additive that numbs the back of the throat, masks the harsh taste and feel of tobacco, making the products a favorite among young, new smokers. The tobacco industry has particularly targeted Black people with advertising for menthol cigarettes, leading prominent civil rights organization NAACP to come out in support of a ban on the products. Cigars were the second most widely used tobacco product among high school students in 2021, and nearly 75% of youth cigar smokers cite flavors as a major reason for use. 

In response, PIRG’s Public Health Campaigns Director Matthew Wellington released the following statement:

“Menthol cigarettes are among the most addictive tobacco products on the market. Every year, these cigarettes will condemn millions of Americans to suffer from tobacco-related illness and potentially death. Flavored cigars are another major driver of youth tobacco use. That’s why the FDA’s announcement is such a milestone. In one fell swoop, the agency could block two of the tobacco industry’s primary methods for hooking our kids on tobacco products. We applaud the FDA’s actions and hope that the agency quickly finalizes the new rules.”