Wyden, Merkley, Colleagues Express Support for FDA’s Proposed Life-Saving Ban on Menthol Cigarettes and Flavored Cigars

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today joined Senate colleagues to express support for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rules that would ban menthol in cigarettes and flavored cigars. Menthol numbs the throat and mitigates the harshness of tobacco smoke, making menthol cigarettes more appealing to youth and people beginning to smoke.

“By increasing youth smoking and making cessation more difficult, menthol cigarettes have magnified the public health harms of smoking. Between 1980 and 2018, menthol cigarettes were responsible for 10.1 million additional smokers and 378,000 premature deaths in the United States,” the senators wrote in a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf. “We applaud FDA for issuing these proposed rules and are pleased to see the agency using the regulatory authority that Congress gave it to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco products.”

“This careful approach is why a broad coalition, including prominent civil rights and public health groups, support FDA action to remove menthol tobacco products from the market,” the senators continued. “We urge you to move promptly to consider public comments, finalize the rule, and implement it so that these life-savings requirements can take effect as soon as possible.”

The letter was led by U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey, D-Mass. Alongside Wyden and Merkley, the letter was joined by U.S. Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Ben Cardin, D-Md., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Alex Padilla, D-Calif.

The text of the letter is here.

A web version of this release is here.