Lawsuit Against the FDA Dismissed in Light of Menthol
Joint Statement from the Plaintiffs Declaring Victory
WASHINGTON, DC – June 1, 2022 – Today, we are pleased to announce that we are dismissing our lawsuit against the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 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 in the lawsuit against the FDA – Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the National Medical Association (NMA) – represented by the legal team at Pollock Cohen LLP, are proud to have spurred on this action. 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 Dr. Rachel Villanueva, President of the National Medical Association. “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.”
While we are pleased that the rule is in progress, we encourage local advocates to keep pursuing local menthol bans. The quicker these laws are passed; the more lives can be saved.
“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, M.D.
"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 Dr. Phillip Gardiner, Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC).
We are certain that the tobacco industry will attempt to insert themselves into the rulemaking by obscuring the facts and slowing down the process. The public health, research, and medical communities must counter the tobacco industry’s influence; we strongly encourage those communities to submit fact-based comments to the rule.
“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 Action on Smoking and Health. “We are proud to have been a co-plaintiff in this extraordinary demonstration of the power of proactive litigation.”
This lawsuit has achieved an important goal; we are one step closer toward preventing the deaths of 39,000 African Americans every year from tobacco-related diseases. We are pleased to have been a part of this historic action. The end of the lawsuit does not mean the end of our involvement in working towards a menthol ban; we will not stand down until an effective rule is in place. We encourage the FDA to move as quickly as possible to reach that goal.
Plaintiff's direct media contacts are:
AATCLC: Josh Brown, 312-813-5276
AMA: Kelly Jakubek, 312-464-4443
ASH: Megan Arendt, 202-390-9513
NMA: Courtney Holsworth, 989-572-8162
For inquiries specific to the Citizen Petition, please contact Joelle Lester from the Public Health Law Center.
The African American Tobacco Leadership Council (AATCLC)
The AATCLC was formed to educate the public about the effects of tobacco on the Black American and African Immigrant populations, the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing tactics and the need to regulate menthol and all flavored tobacco product. To more effectively reach and save Black lives, the AATCLC partners with community stakeholders and public serving agencies to inform and direct tobacco control policies, practices and priorities.
Action on Smoking & Health (ASH)
Founded in 1967, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is America’s oldest anti-tobacco organization, dedicated to a world with ZERO tobacco deaths. Because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH supports bold solutions proportionate to the magnitude of the problem.
American Medical Association (AMA)
The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care. The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises, and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.
National Medical Association (NMA)
The NMA promotes the collective interests of physicians and patients of African descent. We carry out this mission by serving as the collective voice of physicians of African descent and a leading force for parity in medicine, elimination of health disparities and promotion of optimal health.
Pollock Cohen LLP
Pollock Cohen LLP focuses on representing plaintiffs and protecting the public interest through impact litigation. The firm also handles a broad range of complex commercial litigation, maintains an active pro bono practice, and is a leader in whistleblower actions.