Online Program

Restricting the sale of flavored tobacco (including menthol)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

Todd Fraley, JD, Programs and Policy Department, Respiratory Health Association, Chicago, IL
Kendall Stagg, JD, (Formerly) Chicago Department of Public Health, Chicago, IL
Kate McMahon, MPH, Programs and Policy Department, Respiratory Health Association, Chicago, IL
Jennifer Herd, MHLP, Department of Public Health, City of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Donna Scrutchins, Chicago Department of Public Health, Chicago, IL

The sale of candy and fruit flavored cigarettes have been banned by federal law since 2009. Nonetheless, the sale of flavored cigars, cigarillos, hookah, and menthol-flavored cigarettes is still permitted, despite the fact that mentholated products are an established starter product for youth and have been found to have a disparate impact on vulnerable populations, including racial/ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, and people of low socio-economic status.


In late 2013, Chicago became the first jurisdiction at any level of government — federal, state, or local — to include menthol in laws that regulate flavored tobacco. While two lawsuits are pending, federal judges recently denied injunctions against the ordinance. Previously, federal courts have upheld flavored tobacco ordinances exclusive of mentholated products in New York City and Providence, RI. This presentation examines the feasibility of menthol-inclusive flavored tobacco ordinances in light of these judicial decisions and Chicago’s path to policy adoption and implementation. 

Lessons Learned

The presentation will outline best practices related to policy development, community engagement, and implementation, as well as discuss opposition tactics.


While the precedent from these judicial decisions would only be binding in the districts from which they originated, nevertheless, New York City and Providence’s ordinances provide a good framework for actions by other municipalities seeking to reduce the impact of flavored tobacco on vulnerable populations.  Assuming Chicago’s ordinance is upheld, Chicago’s policy will provide a blueprint for further prohibitions on the sale of mentholated products.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the legal authority for state and local governments to regulate the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol-flavored cigarettes. Describe strategies that will likely be necessary to regulate menthol-flavored cigarettes in other jurisdictions and pitfalls to avoid.

Keyword(s): Tobacco Control, Law

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a fully licensed attorney in good status with the state bar of Illinois. I currently serve as the Health Policy Analyst for Respiratory Health Association (Chicago, IL). I have approximately four years of experience in tobacco control, including experience in policy analysis, advocacy, and state tobacco settlement litigation.
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.