WASHINGTON, D.C., April 1, 2024 — In December 2023, the White House announced a delay in the release of final rules to eliminate menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and all characterizing flavors (other than tobacco) in cigars. At the time, the administration set March 2024 as a new deadline for an announcement. Nancy Brown, chief executive of the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization focused on heart and brain health that is celebrating its centennial birthday this year, expressed deep disappointment in the administration’s lack of action to finalize the rules.

“Nearly two full years after releasing proposed rules backed by extensive scientific evidence – and more than a decade since the FDA began examining menthol cigarettes – the administration has failed to take decisive action to remove these deadly, addictive products from the market,” Brown said. “The administration’s inaction is enabling the tobacco industry to continue aggressively marketing these products and attracting and addicting new users.”

Tobacco companies have long targeted communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities, and youth with menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. A 2022 report from the American Heart Association and Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising (SRITA), a research unit of Stanford Medicine, detailed Big Tobacco’s decades of aggressively marketing menthol products to specific populations. Unfortunately, the results of the tobacco industry’s campaign are very clear. Today, 85% of all Black people who smoke use menthol, and menthol use is high in Hispanic, Asian American, American Indian/Alaska Native and LGBTQ+ communities.

“The administration has a historic opportunity in front of it,” Brown continued. ”Removing these products from the market would save an estimated 654,000 lives, including as many as 238,000 Black lives, over the next four decades, and would significantly advance health equity. The White House cannot allow the sustained and misleading lobbying campaign of the tobacco industry and its allies to override the science. The research is complete. The evidence is clear. The waiting must end. The administration should release strong, final rules now.”

Late last year, the American Heart Association led a group of 80 national organizations to declare full support for these rules in a full-page Washington Post advertisement. The Association has also mobilized thousands of patients and volunteers to share their stories about the impact of these dangerous products throughout the rulemaking process. From leading cardiologists including Drs. Michelle Albert and Jorge Saucedo, to grassroots advocates such as Minou Jones of Detroit, MI, DJ Yearwood of Independence, MO, and Lee Storrow of Chapel Hill, NC, the message has been clear: removing these products from the market will save lives, improve health and reduce health care costs.


About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for a century. During 2024 - our Centennial year - we celebrate our rich 100-year history and accomplishments. As we forge ahead into our second century of bold discovery and impact our vision is to advance health and hope for everyone, everywhere. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For Media Inquiries:
Steve Weiss: steve.weiss@heart.org
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)
heart.org and stroke.org