Attorney General Bonta Leads Coalition to Urge Biden Administration to Implement Ban on Menthol Cigarettes and Flavored Cigars

Tuesday, January 16, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, co-leading a coalition of 21 states, submitted a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget urging the Biden administration to complete its review and swiftly implement proposed public health regulations to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. The proposed FDA rules, which are supported by ample evidence, have been long overdue. In today's letter, the coalition specifically highlights calls for action by civil rights and public health groups to remove menthol tobacco products from the marketplace to protect public health and address the systemic and disproportionate impact of these products on minority communities and other vulnerable populations, including young people.

“For far too long, tobacco companies have intentionally targeted specific communities across this nation, particularly communities of color, which has contributed to significant health disparities and inequities,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The time to act is now. I urge the Biden Administration to finally halt the sale of these flavored tobacco products, which will lay the groundwork to reverse decades of disparities in tobacco use and save lives.” 

Overwhelming scientific evidence — including the FDA’s own findings and statements — leave no doubt that menthol cigarettes have far-reaching adverse impacts on public health, resulting in more smoking and more death and disease from tobacco use. Tobacco companies add menthol to cigarettes and cigars, which disguises the harsh taste of cigarettes. As a result, this flavoring remains a primary reason as to why young people initiate and become addicted to smoking. Menthol cigarette use is also disproportionately high among LGBTQ+ smokers, smokers with mental health problems, and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.

For decades, the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed menthol cigarettes in Black communities through heavy advertising and promotional campaigns. As a result, in 2020, approximately 81 percent of non-Hispanic Black adults who smoked used menthol cigarettes, compared to 34 percent of non-Hispanic White adults. 

In the letter, the multistate coalition urges the Biden Administration to finalize its review of the FDA’s proposed rules without delay. As state and territorial chief legal officers, the attorneys general address unfounded claims that the proposed menthol ban will increase illicit trade or criminalize the individual purchase, possession, or use of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. The coalition argues that the FDA’s proposed rules are critical steps for advancing health equity and protecting public health. Moreover, banning menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars will bring the country closer to achieving the Cancer Moonshot, President Biden’s historic push “to end cancer as we know it.”

Attorney General Bonta co-leads the attorneys general of Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and District of Columbia.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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