White House Misses Another Deadline… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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White House Misses Another Deadline to Finalize Rule Prohibiting Menthol Cigarettes – Delays Cost Lives, Especially Black Lives

Statement of Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP
April 01, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – It is profoundly disappointing and harmful to public health that the Biden Administration has missed yet another deadline to issue a final FDA rule eliminating menthol cigarettes. The Administration delayed issuing the final rule in December and now has missed the new deadline it set to issue the rule by March 2024.

There is absolutely no reason to further delay a policy that has been studied for more than 12 years, is supported by overwhelming scientific evidence, and will save hundreds of thousands of lives. Make no mistake: Delays cost lives, especially Black lives. Delays allow the tobacco industry to continue its predatory targeting of Black and other communities with menthol cigarettes, resulting in 45,000 Black lives lost to smoking-related diseases every year. If Black lives truly matter, it’s time to get rid of menthol cigarettes, the only flavored cigarettes still on the market.

The White House should not be duped by the false claims of a tobacco industry that has repeatedly lied to the public and is willing to say and do anything to protect its profits. Contrary to industry claims that the rule will result in more over-policing in Black communities, the FDA has made it crystal clear that the rule will apply to manufacturers and retailers and will not make it illegal for individual consumers to possess or use menthol cigarettes. The industry has also spun a false narrative that the rule will hurt President Biden politically. To the contrary, recent polling shows that voters support the rule by a wide margin, with even stronger support from Black voters, and the rule would not harm the President’s electoral prospects.

Because of the enormous health benefits, the FDA’s rule has strong and broad support across the nation. Supporters include members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, other Black civil rights and health organizations, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and over 300 faith leaders from across the country. On March 21, 123 leading civil rights, public health, faith, medical, youth-serving and other organizations placed a full-page ad in The Washington Post and issued a joint statement urging the Biden Administration to immediately issue the final rule.

The scientific evidence shows that menthol cigarettes are more addictive, easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. For decades, the tobacco industry has relentlessly marketed these products to Black communities, causing devastating and disproportionate harm to the health of Black Americans. Research shows that eliminating menthol cigarettes will save up to 654,000 lives within 40 years, including 255,000 Black lives. The menthol rule is also critical to achieving top priorities of the Biden Administration, including the President’s Cancer Moonshot and the Administration’s commitment to promoting health equity. The Administration must stand up to the tobacco industry and act now to save lives.