As a cardiologist with the Deborah Heart and Lung Center, and President of the American Heart Association’s Board of Directors, I have seen first-hand the negative effects of tobacco.
I strongly support the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rule to remove menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars from the market. I also support efforts in New Jersey to remove menthol cigarettes from the market and urge the legislature and the governor to go further and remove all flavored tobacco products from the market in the Garden State.
Many young people who smoke start with menthol cigarettes. In fact, young people who smoke have the highest rates of menthol cigarette use and about half of all people under the age of 25 who smoke use menthol flavored products.
Big Tobacco has a shameful record of targeting youth and adults in Black communities with menthol products, resulting in the disproportionately higher use rates by Black people who smoke – about 85% use menthols. These companies spend millions of dollars marketing their menthol brands to keep their addictive cigarettes cheap and highly visible in Black communities.
Removing menthol cigarettes from the marketplace is an essential step to reduce the use of tobacco and advance health equity. I urge the FDA to keep this rule strong and remove all menthol cigarettes from the market. I also urge lawmakers in Trenton to fill in the gaps by prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including hookah and pipe tobacco. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. It’s linked to about one third of all deaths from heart disease and 90% of lung cancers. Removing these products will save lives and reduce health care costs.
-Renee Patrice Bullock-Palmer, MD, FACC, FAHA, FASNC, FASE, FSCCT
Director, Non Invasive Cardiac Imaging
Director, Women’s Heart Center
Deborah Heart and Lung Center