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Minnesota Public Health Association

Since 1907, MPHA has been dedicated to creating a healthier Minnesota through effective public health practice and engaged citizens. 

Regulatory Action to Reduce the Impact of Menthol Cigarettes

May 31, 2018 8:43 AM | Anonymous

WHEREAS, Tobacco industry documents show that the tobacco industry used targeting strategies intentionally tailored to market menthols to African Americans, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) communities, and youth at disproportionate rates.1,2 Documents also revealed Lorillard Tobacco Company characterized high-school students as “the base of our business” for menthol cigarettes,3 and

WHEREAS, a 2013 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report showed that menthol cigarettes increase youth smoking initiation, lead to a greater addiction and decrease successes in quitting smoking.4 A study demonstrated that menthol levels in cigarettes were deliberately manipulated by the industry to broaden the appeal of cigarettes to youth.5

WHEREAS, eighty-three percent of African American youth smokers6 and 71 percent of LGBTQ youth smokers report smoking menthol cigarettes.7

WHEREAS, African Americans in Minnesota smoke at a rate of 22.3 percent.8 Tobacco use is the top cause of preventable death and disease among African Americans. Among adult African American smokers, 88 percent smoke menthols, compared to 26 percent of adult white smokers.9 Eight out of every 10 (83 percent) African American youth smokers smoke menthols.10 African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival rate from most cancers.11

WHEREAS, members of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) communities smoke menthol cigarettes at higher rates than the general population. The smoking rate for lesbian, gay and bisexual persons in Minnesota is 25.7 percent.12 More than 36 percent of LGBTQ smokers smoke menthol cigarettes, with LGBTQ female smokers smoking menthols at an extremely high rate (42.9 percent).13

WHEREAS, menthol tobacco use is a specific problem for Minnesota with 25.1 percent of smokers report smoking menthol cigarettes,14 half of Minnesota teen smokers (44.3 percent of high-school student smokers) smoke menthol cigarettes,15 and smoking-related disease rates among American Indians are at epidemic levels, and 30 percent of American Indian smokers smoke menthol cigarettes.16 

WHEREAS, policies that regulate or restrict menthol tobacco products have potential to reduce tobacco addiction and improve health. Research suggests that if menthol were banned in the U.S., 39 percent of menthol smokers, including 47 percent of black menthol smokers, would quit smoking.17 Among Minnesota menthol smokers, approximately half reported they would quit smoking if menthol cigarettes were banned.18

WHEREAS, on 2016, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Board of Directors ratified a resolution to support efforts at local and state levels to restrict the sale of flavored and menthol tobacco products.19

WHEREAS, the a ban of menthol from cigarettes is supported by several public health entities, including the Truth Initiative (American Legacy Foundation), the American Cancer Society, ClearWay Minnesota, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the Center for American Progress and the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Minnesota Public Health Association:

  1. Supports the rights of state and local governments to regulate menthol to the extent it is legally permissible. Potential regulatory options include restricting the sale of menthol tobacco products and restricting point-of-sale advertising.
  2. Supports a federal ban on menthol in cigarettes and in all other tobacco products to reduce the impact on the public’s health.
  3. Support funding communities most impacted by menthol to organize from within the community and support practice-based evidence strategies that respect community tradition and knowledge.

  1. Yerger VB. Menthol's potential effects on nicotine dependence: A tobacco industry perspective. Tobacco Control. 2011;20(Suppl. 2):ii29-ii36.
  2. Reynolds R. Project SCUM. December 12, 1995.
  3. Achy TL. Tobacco industry product information. 1978;
  4. Food and Drug Administration. Preliminary Scientific Evaluation of the Possible Public Health Effects of Menthol versus NonMenthol Cigarettes. 2013; ndAssessments/UCM361598.pdf.
  5. Kreslake J, Wayne G, Alpert H, Koh H, Connolly G. Tobacco Industry Control of Menthol in Cigarettes and Targeting of Adolescents and Young Adults. Am J Pub Health. 2008;98(9):1685- 1692.
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The NSDUH Report: The Use of Menthol Cigarettes. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies; November 19, 2009.
  7. National Youth Advocacy Coalition. Coming Out about Smoking: A Report from the National LGBTQ Young Adult Tobacco Project. 2010.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Minnesota data;, 2015.
  9. Giovino GA, Villanti AC, Mowery PD, et al. Differential trends in cigarette smoking in the USA: is menthol slowing progress? Tob Control. 2015;24(1):28-37.
  10. National Youth Advocacy Coalition. Coming Out about Smoking: A Report from the National LGBTQ Young Adult Tobacco Project. 2010.
  11. Society AC. Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2016-2018. Atlanta: American Cancer Society;2016.
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Minnesota data;, 2015.
  13. Fallin A, Goodin AJ, King BA. Menthol Cigarette Smoking among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Adults. Am J Prev Med. 2014.
  14. ClearWay Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Health. Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey: Tobacco Use in Minnesota: 2014 Update. February 2015.
  15. Minnesota Department of Health. Teens and Tobacco in Minnesota, 2014 Update - Results from the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey. November 2014.
  16. American Indian Community Tobacco Projects. Tribal Tobacco Use Project Survey, Statewide American Indian Community Report. 2013.
  17. Hartman AM. What Menthol Smokers Report They Would Do If Menthol Cigarettes Were No Longer Sold. Paper presented at: FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee MeetingJanuary 10-11, 2011.
  18. D’Silva J AM, Boyle RG. Quitting and switching: Menthol smokers’ responses to a menthol ban. Tobacco Regulatory Science. April 2015;1(1):54-60.
  19. NAACP Board ratifies resolution to support State and Local Restrictions on the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products. Accessed July 20, 2017.

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