Home CHEST News CHEST Supports Menthol Should Be Prohibited as Characterizing Flavor in Cigarettes

CHEST Supports Menthol Should Be Prohibited as Characterizing Flavor in Cigarettes

Chicago, IL – In response to the increased risk of youth initiation to smoking by way of menthol cigarettes resulting in addiction, and the reduced success in smoking cessation among youth and adults who use menthol-based smoking products, the American College of Chest Physicians® (CHEST) released the following statement:

“The American College of Chest Physicians supports the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in their call to prohibit menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and the need for action on the Citizen Petition referenced above. As stated in the FDA's own scientific analysis and the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) report, menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with nonmenthol cigarettes.

“Studies on menthol cigarettes have repeatedly shown that flavoring increases the initiation of smoking among young people. This preference increases with Black youth smokers, a disparity that continues with menthol cigarettes taking a disproportionately high toll on disease and death in the African American community. Again, the FDA's own studies show that menthol cigarettes are associated with increased nicotine dependence and reduced success in smoking cessation, particularly among African American smokers. Arguments presented for the continuation of menthol flavoring can never justify the health disparities and increased risk of life that exists.

“The American College of Chest Physicians asserts, along with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, that action is required by the FDA and that the following steps must be taken to ensure the public health:

  1. The Citizen Petition must be granted to start the enactment of a tobacco product standard rulemaking process that will lead to the prohibition of menthol cigarettes. With the knowledge that smoking increases the risk for death from the novel coronavirus, among other critical diseases, it is imperative that access to menthol cigarettes becomes obsolete.
  2. Along with the prohibition of menthol cigarettes, we call on the FDA to expand the capacity of current cessation programs to assist those seeking to quit smoking. An increase in efforts to support smokers through education and cessation services will allow for a rise in success among smokers aiming to quit. The Affordable Care Act already provides for expanded cessation coverage.
  3. If concerns arise around the increase of illicit cigarette markets as a reaction to the prohibition of menthol cigarettes, the FDA is implored to enforce their mandate to implement a track-and-trace system to avoid the risk of expanding illegal markets. To protect the health of youth and adults likely to be addicted to menthol cigarettes, these products must be removed from the market, and the market must be monitored for illegal manufacturing and sales.

We, the members of the American College of Chest Physicians, encourage the adoption of the Citizen Petition and commence a rulemaking leading to the prohibition of menthol cigarettes without further delay as it is in the best interest of public health.

Media Contact: Susan Rice, American College of Chest Physicians media@chestnet.org

About the American College of Chest Physicians

The American College of Chest Physicians® (CHEST) is the global leader in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chest diseases. Its mission is to champion advanced clinical practice, education, communication and research in chest medicine. It serves as an essential connection to clinical knowledge and resources for its 19,000+ members from around the world who provide patient care in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. For information about the American College of Chest Physicians, and its flagship journal CHEST®, visit chestnet.org