Online Program

Pressing the FDA to act on menthol

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 11:10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Joelle Lester, JD, Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, Public Health Law Center, St. Paul, MN
With the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, Congress took an important step to prevent youth smoking by banning flavored cigarettes. Because tobacco manufacturers use flavors, herbs and spices to mask the harshness of tobacco and attract new generations of underage smokers, Congress prohibited fruity and candy-like additives as characterizing flavors in cigarettes and cigarette smoke, with one exception. Despite menthol's minty flavoring and youth appeal, as well as its popularity among adult smokers, menthol was exempted from Congress' flavor prohibition. Instead, the Tobacco Control Act provided the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with the authority to prohibit menthol if “appropriate for public health” and made the issue of menthol in cigarettes a priority for FDA consideration.

To ensure that the FDA was advised about menthol and other scientific issues, the Tobacco Control Act established the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee. After a lengthy and careful review of the evidence, the Committee concluded: “Removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States.” More than two years after receiving the Committee's report, the FDA has yet to act.

On April 12, 2013, nineteen leading national organizations filed a formal Citizen Petition, urging the FDA to exercise its regulatory power and protect America's health by prohibiting menthol as a characterizing flavoring in cigarettes. This presentation will discuss the FDA's response to the petition and describe what the public health community can do to press the FDA to take bold action on menthol.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the current status of federal regulation of menthol in tobacco products Discuss the pending Citizen Petition calling on the FDA to prohibit menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes Explain the process for submitting comments to the FDA on tobacco regulation Describe what kind of information will be most beneficial to the agency in advancing sensible tobacco regulation

Keyword(s): Tobacco Policy, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a staff attorney with the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, a program of the Public Health Law Center. Before attending law school, Joelle was a grassroots organizer and executive director of the Oregon Student Association, a non-profit higher education advocacy group. Joelle also worked as a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, advocating for public K-12 education. She received her J.D. from the University of Minnesota School of law in 2007.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.