CHESTCHEST NewsContinued support for prohibiting manufacture and sale of menthol and flavored cigarettes

Continued support for prohibiting manufacture and sale of menthol and flavored cigarettes

In recent letters to the Senate and the House of Representatives, the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) along with a coalition of medical societies voiced their strong support for the proposed rules that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued to prohibit the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.

The evidence is clear that prohibiting menthol cigarettes in particular will have enormous benefits for our nation’s health, especially among Black Americans:

  • Prohibiting menthol cigarettes will save hundreds of thousands of lives. Researchers estimate that prohibiting menthol cigarettes would save up to 654,000 lives within 40 years, including the lives of 255,000 Black Americans. Black Americans represent more than one-third of the lives that would be saved.
  • Prohibiting menthol cigarettes will reduce and even eliminate health disparities. Black Americans currently die at higher rates from tobacco-related diseases like lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. A recent analysis by researchers at the Council on Foreign Relations found that a ban on menthol cigarettes would eliminate the disparity in lung cancer death rates between Black Americans and other U.S. racial and ethnic groups within 5 years to 25 years sooner than it would otherwise happen.

Read the full letter (sent to both the Senate and the House of Representatives) below.

February 21, 2023

United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

We write to express our strong support for proposed rules that the Food and Drug Administration has issued to prohibit the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. FDA’s proposals will substantially improve public health by reducing youth tobacco use, preventing tobacco-caused disease, and saving lives. We urge you to support FDA’s proposed rules and oppose any effort to prevent or delay FDA from finalizing and implementing them. It is time to put an end to the tobacco industry’s targeted efforts to use flavored products to lure youth into a lifetime of deadly addiction.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., responsible for nearly one in five deaths and more than $241 billion in health care costs each year. While smoking rates have declined, many communities continue to experience high rates of smoking and smoking-caused disease, including people with lower levels of income and education, individuals living in rural areas, Native Americans, people with a behavioral health condition, and the LGBTQ+ community. Congress gave FDA tools to reduce the number of people who die of cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, and other tobacco-caused diseases. FDA is now proposing to use one of those tools – the ability to set tobacco product standards – to reduce the public health harms caused by menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.

Menthol cools and numbs the throat, which helps mask the harshness of tobacco smoke and makes it easier for young people to start smoking. Menthol cigarettes are also more addictive and harder to quit than non-menthol cigarettes. As a result, menthol cigarettes have increased the number of youth who smoke and the number of people who die prematurely from smoking. Black communities, which have been the target of menthol cigarette marketing for decades, have been especially harmed by menthol cigarettes. Removing these products from the market would reduce the number of youth who become addicted to tobacco, save hundreds of thousands of lives, and advance health equity. Researchers estimate that removing menthol cigarettes from the market would prevent up to 654,000 smoking-related deaths over time, including over 255,000 smoking-related deaths among Black Americans.

Cigars, which come in hundreds of kid-friendly flavors like Cherry Dynamite and Tropical Fusion, are the second most popular tobacco product among youth. In 2022, half a million youth were current cigar smokers. Every day that passes, more than 800 kids try cigar smoking for the first time, and there is extensive evidence about the role flavors play in attracting youth to cigars. We need to protect kids from flavored cigars because cigar smoke is composed of the same toxic and carcinogenic constituents found in cigarette smoke. According to the National Cancer Institute, cigar smoking can cause cancer of the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus and lung.

FDA should finalize these proposed rules quickly. All flavors except menthol are already prohibited in cigarettes. Removing other flavored tobacco products from the market, including menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, is supported by strong scientific evidence and is long overdue. We urge you to discourage any delays in the rulemaking process and reject any legislative efforts to restrict the ability of FDA to move forward with these rules or other efforts to reduce tobacco-caused disease and death. Strong FDA action to reduce tobacco use is critical, as tobacco use continues to claim the lives of nearly half a million Americans every year.


Academy of General Dentistry
Action on Smoking and Health
African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council
Allergy & Asthma Network
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Nursing
American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association for Cancer Research
American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research
American Association for Respiratory Care
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American College Health Association
American College of Cardiology
American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST)
American College of Physicians
American College of Preventive Medicine
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
American Public Health Association
American Thoracic Society
Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights
Association for Clinical Oncology
Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence
Association of Black Cardiologists
Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Big Cities Health Coalition
Black Women's Health Imperative
Breathe America
Breathe Southern California
California Black Health Network
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
CATCH Global Foundation
Catholic Health Association of the United States
Center for Black Equity
Center for Black Health and Equity
Commissioned Officers Association of the USPHS
Common Sense Media
COPD Foundation
Counter Tools
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Emphysema Foundation of America
Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)
First Focus on Children
For Future Lungs
H.E.A.R.T. Coalition
International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
LUNGevity Foundation
March of Dimes
National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
National Association of School Nurses
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Association of Social Workers
National Black Church Initiative
National Black Nurses Association
National Center for Health Research
National Education Association
National Hispanic Medical Association
National LGBT Cancer Network
National Medical Association
National Network of Public Health Institutes
National Rural Health Association
National Tongan American Society, The
North American Quitline Consortium
Oncology Nursing Society
Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes (PAVe)
Prevent Cancer Foundation
Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation/Tobacco 21
Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association
Respiratory Health Association
Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco
Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education
Society of Thoracic Surgeons
Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)
Trust for America's Health
Vaping Prevention Resource