COPD Foundation Supports Proposed Ban on Menthol Cigarettes

April 29, 2021, Washington, DC — The COPD Foundation applauds the Biden administration and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on their announcement today to begin the process of banning menthol cigarettes and cigars.

The COPD Foundation joins 80 other national organizations in the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids coalition in supporting this much-needed action to save lives, reduce youth tobacco addiction and diminish health disparities. Smoking is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) along with heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke and is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

"This is a historic moment for all of us who work daily to improve the lives of individuals whose health has been critically impacted by the harms of smoking," said Ruth Tal-Singer, President and Chief Scientific Officer of the COPD Foundation. "Menthol is the last remaining 'flavoring' for cigarettes—banning it is a tremendous step towards decreasing the appeal of smoking. Millions of Americans would have been spared the devastating health effects of smoking if menthol cigarettes had never been allowed to exist. Sadly, we cannot rewrite history, but we can support this momentous, bold measure and ensure that more individuals are not ‘recruited’ to smoking by the deceptive, masking properties of menthol and many current smokers are incentivized to quit."

The FDA and its Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee concluded in 2011 that eliminating menthol cigarettes would have a significant impact on public health. Scientific study has shown that menthol cigarettes are more addictive and, as the menthol flavoring cools and numbs the throat, masking the harshness of tobacco smoke and other flavors, menthol cigarettes make it easier to start smoking. Half of youth who have ever tried smoking started with menthol cigarettes and half of all high school smokers use menthol cigarettes.

In addition, menthol cigarettes directly impact health disparities as Black Americans have long been the object of direct, menthol-cigarette target marketing by the tobacco industry. As much as 85% of Black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes as compared to only 29% of White smokers.

A study published in February in the Tobacco Control journal concluded that from 1980 to 2018 menthol cigarettes were responsible for 10.1 million extra smokers, 378,000 premature deaths and 3 million life years lost in the United States.

About the COPD Foundation
The COPD Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that was established to improve the lives of people with COPD, bronchiectasis, and nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease through initiatives that expand services and speed innovations which will make treatment more effective and affordable. We do this through scientific research, education, advocacy, and awareness with the goal of disease prevention and progression, and ultimately a cure.