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Governor Newsom Issues Statement Calling on FDA to Ban Menthol Cigarettes

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Sacramento, CA – A push to prohibit menthol cigarettes in the nation could get a big boost tomorrow.

Thursday, April 29th is the deadline for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to respond to a petition demanding a ban on menthol cigarettes. With a similar ban up for a vote in California, Governor Gavin Newsom praised the restriction, stating, “I urge the federal government to follow California’s leadership to protect public health and advance racial equity by moving to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes. For decades, Big Tobacco has targeted and profited from Black communities with marketing for minty menthol cigarettes and as a result, smoking-related illnesses are the number one cause of death among Black Americans.

In August of last year, California passed a state-level ban on flavored tobacco products that also targeted menthol. It was set to go into effect at the beginning of this year but will now be decided by the public in the November 2022 general election after opponents successfully petition for a referendum. Campaign finance disclosures revealed the tobacco industry spent more than $20 million last year alone opposing the legislation.

The federal petition, filed in 2013, to the FDA is part of a process that lets individuals and community organizations request changes to health policy. It was filed by the Public Health Law Center, the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, and other public health groups. Past efforts to ban menthol cigarettes have failed, but proponents think this time may be different and could start a more aggressive tobacco regulation by the government.

Newsom stressed, “This will be an important step in the right direction, but we must keep advancing the cause.”

Just this week, Sonora Police conducted a tobacco sting where two retailers were found selling products to minors, as reported here.

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