Banning Menthol Cigarettes

After years of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) being lobbied by Big Tobacco and slow-walking Congress’ directive to regulate menthol cigarettes, we initiated a lawsuit against the FDA. Our clients included the American Medical Association (AMA), the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

And we won a powerful victory that is resulting in the ban on menthol cigarettes.

In April 2022, the FDA announced plans to ban sales of menthol-flavored cigarettes in the United States, a measure many public health experts hailed as the government’s most meaningful action in more than a decade of tobacco control efforts.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, smoking-related illnesses are the number one cause of death in the African American community, and a disproportionately high percentage of African American smokers smoke menthol cigarettes. Public health experts say the proposal could save hundreds of thousands of lives, especially among Black smokers — 85 percent of whom use menthol products.

Joint Statement from the Plaintiffs on FDA’s Response in Favor of Banning Menthol

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The intent of our lawsuit was to compel the FDA to fulfill its mandate to take action on FDA’s own conclusions that it would benefit the public health to add menthol to the list of prohibited characterizing flavors and therefore ban it from sale.

Read the full complaint here.

Read speakers’ full statements at the virtual press conference here.

Our goal was to bring to attention the lack of action from the FDA to fulfill its 2009 mandate concerning whether menthol products should be taken off the shelves. In 2009, Congress passed—and President Obama signed into law—the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The Act created a flavor ban in cigarettes but excluded menthol, subject to further research. In 2011, the FDA’s Advisory Committee concluded that the “removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States.”

Despite this conclusion, and several statements of support in the interim, the FDA had not begun the rulemaking process of removing menthol from combustible cigarettes.

In our lawsuit the plaintiffs simply asked the court to direct the FDA to take action.

About The African American Tobacco Leadership Council (AATCLC).

The AATCLC was formed to educate the public about the effects of tobacco on the Black American and African Immigrant populations, the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing tactics and the need to regulate flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. To more effectively reach and save Black lives, we also partner with community stakeholders and public serving agencies to inform and direct tobacco control policies, practices and priorities.
Read more about the AATCLC at:

About Action on Smoking & Health (ASH).

ASH is America’s oldest anti-tobacco organization, dedicated to a world with ZERO tobacco deaths. Because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH supports bold solutions proportionate to the magnitude of the problem. ASH works both domestically and globally on initiatives that include pushing for legal liability for the tobacco industry, including criminal liability for tobacco executives; changing social norms to end the age of the cigarette, developing and distributing publications and research documents for tobacco control best practices, and demanding respect for basic human rights and protections against the tobacco industry and their products. 
Read more about the ASH at:

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