National NCNW News

 – Last week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced another delay on its commitment to ban menthol flavored cigarettes and cigars. The federal government has tried several times to ban the flavor, which is disproportionately used by African Americans but has been blocked repeatedly by the tobacco industry and industry backed advocates. Indeed, menthol is one of the only flavors not banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) despite it being targeted for sale to African Americans and it masking the taste of tobacco, which makes it easier to become addicted and more difficult to quit smoking. The result is a disproportionate number of smoking-related deaths, cancer and other illnesses within the African American community. Despite an outpouring of support for the ban by civil rights leaders, health care professionals, and anti-smoking advocates, the Administration delayed issuing the final rule in December 2023 and again in March 2024.

Reverend Shavon Arline-Bradley, President and CEO of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and Melanie L. Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and National Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable issued the following joint statement:

“The Biden-Harris Administration has dedicated the last four years to closing health disparities within underserved communities, including many within the African American community. Therefore, we were shocked to see Secretary Beccera’s statement further delaying the issuance of a final rule on the FDA’s menthol ban. We have decades of data making it clear that menthol-flavored cigarettes pose a threat to the health of smokers and those around them, including children and non-smokers. Worse, we were dismayed to see the blame for this delay placed at the feet of a small minority of voices within the civil rights community, when the vast majority of civil rights leaders have overwhelmingly called for this ban on behalf of the African American people we serve and represent.

“As leaders of legacy civil rights and social justice organizations dedicated to the health and wellness of African Americans, including African American women and children, we understand that Black lives matter and smoking threatens Black lives. It is estimated that this ban could prevent hundreds of thousands of tobacco-related deaths over 40 years – a third of them within the African American community. Moreover, we know that a majority of Americans, including African Americans, support the ban.

“We encourage the Biden-Harris Administration to stand by their commitment to ban menthol to save lives. We call on them to stand with us, anti-smoking advocates, and healthcare and public health professionals by reversing course and issuing a final rule banning menthol flavored tobacco products before the end of year.”

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Bernadine Stallings,, 771.216.1700
Renee Scott,, 771.216.5957