Biden Administration Delays Menthol Ban

April 29, 2024 – Chicago, IL – Last Friday the Biden administration released a statement delaying issuance of a final rule eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. This comes despite the rules being widely supported by medical and public health organizations.

“We have a responsibility to protect our citizens, especially our youth, from the effects of tobacco,” said Joel Africk, CEO and President of Respiratory Health Association. “Lung cancer is still the number one cancer killer of men and women in the United States. The Biden Administration is shirking its responsibility and jeopardizing its proposed Cancer Moonshot Initiative’s goals by delaying this implementation.”

Data have shown that flavored tobacco products, including menthol, mask the harsh flavor of tobacco, and for that reason they are widely preferred by first-time smokers.  Eliminating flavored tobacco products is expected to discourage smoking, especially for new smokers.

The tobacco industry has a long history of using flavored tobacco products, including menthol, to target youth and underrepresented communities with their addictive and harmful products. 93% of African American adults who smoke started by using menthol cigarettes compared to 44% of white adults. Eliminating them fully will protect kids and reduce health disparities. The 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that flavored cigars are the second most popular tobacco product among high school students.

The need is greater than ever to strengthen protections against flavored tobacco and increase programming to protect our youth from the dangers of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. RHA and our partners will continue the fight to remove these harmful products from the market.

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Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906, focusing on lung health and clean air issues. RHA works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people live better through education, research, and policy change. As a policy leader, RHA is committed to advancing innovative and meaningful tobacco control policies. We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for federal oversight of tobacco and vaping products, smoke-free laws, Tobacco 21, and other tobacco product policies.