National Urban League: Proposed Menthol Cigarette Ban Would Benefit African Americans’ Health

National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s plan to propose a ban on menthol cigarettes:

“The destructive impact of menthol cigarettes on the African-American community is clear. African Americans smoke menthol cigarettes at higher rates, quit smoking at lower rates and have far higher death rates from smoking-related illnesses, including lung cancer, than the population as a whole. 

“Over 80% of African-Americans who smoke cigarettes, smoke menthol cigarettes.  Menthol cigarettes also contribute to youth smoking initiation.  Fifty-four percent of all youth who smoke cigarettes, smoke menthol cigarettes.  The number is even higher among African-American youth who smoke: 70 percent smoke menthol cigarettes. The evidence shows that menthol cigarettes make it easier to start smoking and more difficult to quit than regular cigarettes.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the authority to end this scourge by ending the sale of menthol cigarettes nationwide and should do so expeditiously.  The National Urban League welcomes reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to begin a rulemaking process to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes.  The National Urban League supports this effort and urges the FDA to move forward with urgency to implement this plan.”

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