U.S. Health Groups Call off Menthol Lawsuit

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    Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the National Medical Association (NMA) are dismissing their joint lawsuit against the United States Food and Drug Administration. A rulemaking process to ban menthol as a characterizing flavor is in progress, and “we are grateful to be able to declare victory in this case,” the plaintiffs wrote in a joint statement.

    The lawsuit followed the 2013 Citizen’s Petition, which called on the FDA to prohibit menthol in cigarettes.

    “As African American physicians, we are thrilled with the FDA’s proposed rule to ban menthol in cigarettes and flavored cigars as a remedy to settle our lawsuit,” said Rachel Villanueva, president of the NMA. “This proposed rule will save lives and improve health within Black communities. This would not have been possible without the leadership and assistance of our co-plaintiffs and attorneys, whom we wish to sincerely thank.”

    “We are encouraged by the FDA’s recent action to propose a ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes. We look forward to participating in the rulemaking process as we continue our collective push to ensure these harmful products are removed from the market once and for all,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon.

    “The FDA has finally taken a major step forward to protect the health of Black Americans, but the work is far from done. We will not stop until no more Black lives are lost due to the predatory marketing of menthol cigarettes and flavored little cigars,” promised Phillip Gardiner, co-chair of the AATCLC.

    “ASH’s goal is to use litigation as a tool to protect the right to health of all citizens against the harms of the tobacco industry,” said Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, managing attorney at ASH. “We are proud to have been a co-plaintiff in this extraordinary demonstration of the power of proactive litigation.”