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San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

SFMMS Applauds Federal Ban On Menthol Tobacco

The SFMMS strongly supports the Biden administration and FDA’s move to ban menthol cigarettes within the coming year.

This pro-health/anti-tobacco policy has been a long time coming, as it became obvious that such flavorings are a primary factor in Big Tobacco’s marketing to youth and specifically to Black Americans. The SFMMS has supported such a move for many years, bringing anti-menthol tobacco policy to the American Medical Association over a decade ago and, more recently, strongly supporting San Francisco’s forward-looking ban on such products. Big Tobacco funded a “recall” of this policy, as they then attempted with our related local ban on vaping products, but both times were roundly rejected by San Francisco voters.

Such bans have now been implemented in many other nations, leaving the US behind in this regard.  This is especially ironic and even hypocritical, given that so many of the largest tobacco companies are American. But it is important to keep in mind what those companies think of their own products and customers, as revealed in tobacco documents analyzed by UCSF researchers: When an R.J. Reynolds executive was asked if he used his own products, he replied, “We don’t smoke that s—. We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and stupid.”

Research cited by the FDA indicates that such a ban would lead almost a million smokers to quit in the first 18 months after being instituted - a quarter of a million of those Black Americans – and also save over 600,000 lives. Every day that these products are marketed and sold lead to more smoking, disease and death, so we join anti-tobacco advocates in urging that this long-awaited policy be implemented as soon as possible.

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