Durbin Statement On Proposed FDA Rules Prohibiting Menthol Cigarettes And Flavored Cigars

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced regulations banning menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars:


“For years, Big Tobacco has added menthol flavor to mask the harshness of cigarettes, and targeted these addictive, deadly products particularly to Black smokers. Prohibiting menthol in cigarettes and banning flavored cigars will save lives, reduce disparities, and improve health. Today’s announcement is a long-overdue step forward, and I will continue to push the FDA to protect our kids from Big Tobacco’s predatory tactics by prohibiting any menthol-flavored e-cigarettes.”  


Today’s regulation is estimated to reduce smoking rates by 15 percent and prevent up to 650,000 smoking-related deaths. Durbin and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) have pushed the FDA to act for years, previously sending a letter to the FDA to swiftly implement its proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and cigars.


For more than 50 years, the tobacco industry has targeted Black Americans with pervasive marketing of menthol cigarettes through sponsorship of community and music events, magazine advertising, and retail promotions. Today, menthol cigarettes continue to be heavily advertised, widely available, and priced cheaper in Black communities, making them especially appealing to price-sensitive youth.  In the 1950s, less than 10 percent of Black smokers used menthol cigarettes. Today, about 85 percent of Black smokers smoke menthols (three times the rate of white smokers).  While Black smokers smoke less, they die of heart attacks, strokes, and other causes linked to tobacco use at higher rates than white smokers, and have lower success rates of quitting.