Addiction Policy News

ASAM and Coalition Partners Ask the FDA to Prohibit Menthol Cigarettes

November 9, 2020


On November 9, ASAM, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and 67 partner organizations sent a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn urging him to commence rulemaking to prohibit menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes. 


After a 2013 Citizen Petition went unanswered, the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) filed a lawsuit in 2020 to force FDA to prohibit menthol cigarettes.  The coalition is weighing in to ask the FDA to issue a ban on menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes in the interest of public health. The coalition agrees that the presence of menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes is harmful to public health, especially in the African American community.


The science is clear that menthol in cigarettes leads to an increase youth initiation of smoking, and menthol cigarettes are associated with increased nicotine dependence and reduced success in smoking cessation, particularly among African American smokers There is a growing body of evidence that the elimination of menthol cigarettes would lead a substantial number of current menthol smokers to quit smoking rather than switch to non-menthol cigarettes in response to a prohibition on menthol cigarettes. In light of these facts, a ban on menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes would promote public health and help reduce racial health disparities. 


In a recent filing in the litigation, the government indicated that FDA plans to respond to the 2013 Citizen Petition on menthol cigarettes by January 29, 2021. 

Read the letter here.