The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont today welcomed the announcement from the Biden Administration regarding the proposal to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and menthol-flavored mass-produced cigars, but urged Vermont lawmakers to act now because the federal action falls short in making immediate change – costing precious lives that could be saved NOW.
The tobacco industry has long targeted youth, Black and other communities with flavored products to addict a generation of tobacco users. For over a decade, public health organizations have urged action on the local, state and federal level to stop the sale of menthol flavored cigarettes. This should also include the sale of menthol flavored electronic cigarettes.
The science is clear, the time for action is now. Vermont has pending legislation, S.24, that would prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products in Vermont. Prohibiting the sale of menthol-flavored tobacco products would significantly improve public health in Vermont, especially in communities of color. Due to aggressive marketing by the tobacco industry, 85% of black adult smokers and 7 out of 10 black youth smokers, use menthol.
Vermont lawmakers must still take action to pass S.24 to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes in the Green Mountain State. Far too many Vermonters have faced a lifetime of addiction, disease and death from these products.
Prohibiting menthol flavoring in cigarettes across the country would not only save lives from tobacco-related diseases like cancer and heart disease, it would help to combat health disparities that the tobacco industry has intentionally and maliciously inflicted on Black, LGBTQ and low-income communities for decades by aggressively marketing menthol products toward them – but that does not mean we can or should abandon our efforts here at the state level. While the FDA’s announcement today is an important step forward, it will take quite some time to be implemented as the rules process takes place. In the meantime, it’s important Vermont take swift action to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.
Additionally, any prohibition of menthol flavoring in cigarettes that results from FDA’s announcement will set a floor, not a ceiling. It’s imperative we continue to focus our efforts here in Vermont to do what we know is best to protect our communities from the tobacco industry’s deadly products.
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