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Commercial tobacco manufacturers have used menthol cigarettes for years to target vulnerable populations. In fact, according to national surveys, menthol cigarettes are the source of addiction for nearly half of all teen smokers. Menthol increases the palatability of smoking, especially among youth and members of racial and ethnic populations, and menthol increases the difficulty of quitting. Yet when Congress prohibited most cigarettes with flavorings as part of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, it exempted the most important flavoring of all: menthol.
January 15, 2016: Ruling Allows FDA Action on Menthol
In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created a group of scientists called the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) to guide agency decision-making. The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act directed TPSAC to take up the issue of menthol tobacco products as its first order of business. A TPSAC report on menthol was quickly challenged and thrown out by a district court judge sympathetic to the tobacco industry, preventing the FDA from moving forward. A circuit court then reversed the earlier district court decision based on an appeal from the FDA.
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A collection of resources created by the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium at the Public Health Law Center for state and local advocates to educate themselves on menthol tobacco products, and find out how they can effect change in the sale and consumption of menthol tobacco products in their communities.
This page contains resources on the federal regulation of menthol in tobacco products, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC).
Presenters describe the national policy landscape in 2016 by highlighting two active jurisdictions: Chicago, where enforcement has begun on its 2013 ordinance restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of all city schools; and Minnesota, where the state health department and two cities are reducing the use of menthol and other flavored tobacco products.