Senators Tell FDA It's Time to Ban Menthol Cigarettes

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Senators Tell FDA It's Time to Ban Menthol Cigarettes


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal legislators are asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move forward with a ban on menthol cigarettes. 

On Aug. 22, the lawmakers, led by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), urged the agency to use its regulatory authority to remove menthol as a flavor additive. U.S. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) also signed the letter. 

The request comes six years after an FDA scientific review found that "menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with non-menthol cigarettes," the letter noted.

However, the review and the agency's subsequent menthol report remains stalled. Recently, the FDA indicated it would open another public comment period on menthol, Markey said in a release, which could further delay any regulation on menthol. 

"As senators committed to the FDA's mission to protect public health, we believe it is time for the FDA to act on the substantial scientific data and use the authority provided by the Tobacco Control Act to remove menthol cigarettes from the marketplace," the lawmakers wrote in the letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. 

"Continued delay on this issue will only further worsen this public health crisis, as a new generation of smokers are initiated and become addicted to menthol cigarettes," they added.

They requested the agency respond to the letter by Sept. 18. To read a copy of the letter, click here.

The senators' request comes as several cities have taken steps to enact their own menthol measures. In late June, San Francisco became the first city and county to approve a flavor ban ordinance that includes menthol. Minneapolis followed suit earlier this month.