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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) applauds the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) after it announced it is moving forward with proposed tobacco product standards within the next year to ban menthol in cigarettes, which have been heavily marketed in Black, LGBTQ, and young adult communities.

Studies have shown that people who smoke menthol cigarettes have a harder time quitting smoking than if they smoke traditional cigarettes. Menthol and other flavors in tobacco can encourage experimentation by youth and first-time smokers as the minty flavor reduces the harshness and irritation of tobacco on the throat. According to the 2018 California Student Tobacco Survey, high school students in LA County who reported smoking cigarettes regularly reported smoking menthol cigarettes.

“Los Angeles County has always been a leader in tobacco control, having led the way in prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes in 2019,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis. “For far too long, Big Tobacco destroyed lives, dreams, and futures by shamelessly marketing their deadly products to our most vulnerable groups. To that end, we will continue to fight to ensure that every person’s life and health is valued and protected.”

The County’s 2019 ban on flavored tobacco products in unincorporated areas reached a one-year milestone this month with the enforcement period becoming effective back on May 1st, 2020. If the FDA ban on menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars is implemented, regulations will be in place to prohibit all manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers, and retailers from distributing and selling menthol tobacco products.

“Public Health commends the FDA for taking this historic step toward curbing tobacco industry’s continuing efforts to allure new smokers to a highly addictive and deadly flavored product. The FDA’s actions will bring about meaningful public health gains and advance health equity by working towards reversing the health and financial damage tobacco addiction has caused to generations of people,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health. “The work is far from done and we will continue to partner with the community and faith-based organizations to help people quit smoking and help youth live tobacco-free lives.”