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Attorney General Sorrell Recommends FDA Ban Menthol-Flavored Cigarettes

CONTACT: Helen Wagner, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

November 13, 2013

On Friday, November 8, 2013, Attorney General William H. Sorrell, in a bi-partisan letter co-sponsored by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, and signed by a total of 27 Attorneys General, provided comments to the FDA in support of a menthol cigarette ban.

“Menthol cigarettes are attractive to youth and have been marketed in ways that promote youth smoking. We hope the FDA will ban them completely,” said Attorney General Sorrell. Menthol cigarettes are the only flavored cigarettes currently legal for sale in the United States. The FDA is seeking public comment to inform its decisions about what action to take regarding menthol cigarettes.

This summer, the FDA issued a report that reached several key conclusions regarding the health impact of menthol cigarettes, finding that menthol cigarettes lead to increased smoking initiation among youth and young adults, greater addiction, and decreased success in quitting smoking. “These findings, combined with the evidence indicating that menthol’s cooling and anesthetic properties can reduce the harshness of cigarette smoke and the evidence indicating that menthol cigarettes are marketed as a smoother alternative to nonmenthol cigarettes, make it likely that menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with nonmenthol cigarettes,” the FDA’s report concluded. A copy of the FDA’s report can be found here.

The AGs concur with the FDA’s conclusion that menthol cigarettes are likely associated with increased smoking initiation and dependence on smoking, and with reduced cessation. The AGs’ letter sets forth several points in support of a ban of menthol flavored cigarettes, including marketing to youth, the attractiveness of flavored cigarette products to young smokers, and the disparate impact that menthol cigarettes currently have on certain segments of the population, such as young smokers, lower-income smokers, and female smokers.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.