Photo by Andres Siimon

Washington, D.C. – Today Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) submitted official testimony to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advocating for the withdrawal of FDA’s proposed rules that seek a prohibition of menthol cigarettes and characterizing flavors in cigars. The testimony demonstrated how prohibition will harm criminal justice reform efforts, hurt the US economy at a critical time, weaken our national security, and fail to deliver any health benefits whatsoever.   

“These proposals have no basis in science or evidence – and come with potentially deadly consequences,” said Tim Andrews, ATR’s Director of Consumer Issues. “If enacted, these prohibitions will have only two effects. First, they would transfer an estimated $6.6 billion in revenue away from local, state, and federal governments and gift it to criminal syndicates who will create a massive black market, which the State Department has called a significant threat to national security. Second, it would be a huge step back for criminal justice reform by placing vulnerable minority populations in danger. These proposals have received near unanimous condemnation from experts and advocates from across the political spectrum, including the ACLU, Rev. Al Sharpton, and the families of George Floyd and Eric Garner.”   

“Given the significant costs of this proposal, FDA has failed to substantiate any real public health benefit. Studies have repeatedly found no significant difference in quit rates between menthol and non-menthol smokers. Menthol bans internationally have simply driven people to unflavored tobacco or the black market. It is critical to note that a mere 0.78% of high schoolers are menthol smokers, exposing FDA’s lie that this is about “protecting children.”  

“Similarly, FDA lacks justification regarding the proposal to ban flavored cigars. Flavored cigar usage among youths is 0.3% and premium cigar use is 0.1%. These are not numbers that indicate any serious risk, especially considering cigar users smoke less frequently and do not inhale like cigarette smokers. Ultimately, this is an issue of consumer freedom. FDA should allow adults to make their own choices regarding their health.”  

“If the FDA was serious about reducing smoking rates, rather than imposing the failed prohibitionist policies of the past, it should accept the science and encourage smokers to quit through reduced risk tobacco alternatives, such as e-cigarettes, proven 95% safer than smoking. Millions of lives quite literally depend on it.” 

ATR’s submission on the menthol rule can be read here. ATR’s submission on characterizing flavor in cigars can be read here.