September 30, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

African American Tobacco Leadership Council calls on California AG Kamala Harris to join fight against menthol cigarettes

Last week the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council wrote to California Attorney General Kamala Harris urging her to join the effort to ban menthol in cigarettes by, at a very minimum to "submit comments through the Docket asking the FDA to protect our children by banning the use of menthol in tobacco products."

Harris, who purports to care about health and children -- as well as being a high ranking African American political leader -- has been remarkably silent on the issue of menthol and tobacco control in general.

In addition to the importance of her providing general support on the menthol issue, as Attorney General of California she is well-positioned to address industry claims that a menthol ban would generate a black market in cigarettes.  California has strong policies designed to limit smuggling that she could describe as well as use to provide guidance on steps that the FDA could require to require tracking of tobacco products from the point on manufacture on as a way to block the alleged smuggling (which, after all, could only happen with the companies' tacit cooperation).

She could also make the point that an outright ban would be easier to enforce since any menthol cigarettes would be illegal.

In addition to her silence on menthol, unlike her predecessors she has refused to engage with the other attorneys general on the issue of smoking in the movies and the level of enforcement activity directed at tobacco companies for violating the marketing provisions of the MSA has slowed dramatically.  

She did sign a recent letter from 40 AGs calling on the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes which was a good first step, but now she needs to get fully engaged.

Here is the letter the AATCL sent her, as well as the attachments:

Letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris
Attachment 1-Mayor Rahm Emanuel-FDA Letter
Attachment 2-Chicago Department of Public Health-FDA Letter
Attachment 3-Chicago Press Release-FDA Letter
Attachment 4-Save Lives- Ban Menthol National Campaign
Attachment 5-Delta Resolution
Attachment 6-Sample Ban Menthol Resolution
Attachment 7-Healthy Chicago policy brief- menthol flavored cigarettes

Download all files (as a zip file)

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