As the collective voice of African American physicians, the National Medical Association (NMA) welcomes the announcement by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Gottlieb that the FDA will seek to prohibit the sale of mentholated cigarettes and flavored cigars. We encourage the FDA to quickly move forward with this plan.
Implementing this plan would be a lifesaving initiative given that more than 80 percent of African-American smokers use mentholated cigarettes. As physicians, we are committed to preventing disease and adverse health conditions that disproportionately impact minorities and underserved populations. Reducing tobacco use among the African American community is of critical importance.
Smoking-related illnesses are the number-one cause of death in the African- American community and approximately 45,000 African Americans die each year from smoking-related diseases.
African Americans have the highest surveyed rate of desire to quit smoking but are less successful in quit attempts than white and Hispanic smokers. This is due in part to the anesthetic effects of menthol in mentholated cigarettes and the high rate of mentholated cigarette use among African Americans. By prohibiting the sale of mentholated cigarettes, the FDA would be taking a historic step forward in protecting African American lives.
The NMA stands ready to support cessation efforts for those who are addicted to mentholated cigarettes but ready to quit this deadly habit. We encourage the FDA to move swiftly from planning to implementation.