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We need to end menthol cigarettes now.

We all know tobacco is a major health concern, and menthol has especially wreaked havoc in several underserved communities in large part due to the impact of marketing to communities of color and LGBTQ communities.

Often, it is asked whether ending the sales of menthol tobacco would have an impact. Well, in addition to what our science shows and what we saw with the ending of sales of other flavored cigarettes, we know ending menthol tobacco sales will reduce the number of smokers starting and increase the number of smokers who quit.  

Now, we also have data from the north to back these facts. In 2017, Canada ended sales of all flavored tobacco products – but unlike ours, their new law included menthol flavor as well. Menthol has a cooling sensation that reduces coughing from the harshness of tobacco, making it easier to use. Studies have also shown that when you end menthol sales, menthol smokers usually do not continue with unflavored tobacco. Canada recognized this and included menthol products in their law.  

Five years on, we are starting to see the data coming in. Since this law came into effect, there has been an 11% decrease in tobacco sales across the country, and Canadians who smoke menthol reported a 22% drop in tobacco sales. This is a marked difference in tobacco usage rates across the country, meaning these policies can help reduce the negative health effects of tobacco use, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. The rates of menthol tobacco use in Canada are 35% lower than in the US, so it makes sense ending the sale of menthol tobacco in the US would have a much higher impact on the rates of tobacco use in the US.  

Now the FDA is considering ending the sale of menthol tobacco products federally, but these policy changes will be caught up in the courts for years. That is why we still must support ending the sale of menthol tobacco products at a state and local level now, so despite how long the FDA takes, we can still work now to end menthol tobacco use and reduce tobacco use rates overall. 

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