Activists Enlist UN to Press U.S. on Menthol

    Photo: simisi1 from Pixabay

    Health groups want the United Nations to pressure U.S. regulators to ban menthol tobacco products, citing evidence that manufacturers market directly to Black communities, reports Bloomberg.

    Nearly 100 advocacy groups, including the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, the American Heart Association and Action on Smoking and Health, will appeal to the U.N. Human Rights Council to restrict the marketing of menthol-flavored products in the U.S. on the grounds that Black Americans are targeted by tobacco companies.

    “The decades of well-documented racialized and predatory tobacco industry targeting of African Americans, specifically with menthol flavoring, is a human rights issue,” the groups said in the letter to be sent on Wednesday.

    The Food and Drug Administration is expected to unveil new regulations on menthol tobacco products on April 29 in answer to a lawsuit filed last year by the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council in which advocates argued the agency has repeatedly failed to act.

    The likelihood of a ban on menthol cigarettes in the United States is increasing as the impact of menthol cigarettes on Black Americans becomes clearer, according to an article in The New York Times.   

    An estimated 16,000 Black Americans die from lung cancer each year, and deaths due to smoking are about 18 percent higher for Black people than white people, according to the University of California, San Francisco Smoking Cessation Leadership Center.

    Congress has already banned all other flavors from being added to tobacco products.