FDA makes announcement to proceed with a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars

Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took steps to ban the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes and all flavored cigars within the next year, according to an agency announcement.

Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD, the Associate Director, Cancer Prevention and Control at the Masonic Cancer Center and a Professor in the Medical School's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, was selected to the 2011 FDA Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee that wrote the report indicating that removing menthol in cigarettes would significantly benefit public health. As a preeminent tobacco researcher, she contributed the sections of the report that detailed the quantifiable impact of menthol cigarettes on initiation, development of dependence, and poorer cessation rates for users.  

"I applaud the decision that FDA made to move forward in banning menthol-flavored cigarettes and flavors in cigars. As a member of the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory committee, I was a part of the team that issued our conclusive findings that removing menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would improve public health in the US," said Dr. Hatsukami. "This important decision would benefit the populations that are most vulnerable to using menthol cigarettes, such as youth, African Americans, and those who experience the greatest health disparities from smoking. These bans are a critical step towards eliminating the devastating health toll from smoking."

The Masonic Cancer Center has long been a leader in the study of tobacco and nicotine, with the renowned University of Minnesota Tobacco Research Programs being led by Dr. Hatsukami. The program, which was started in the early 1980s, has been awarded over 20 grants from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, National Cancer Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Minnesota Partnership Action Against Tobacco, University of Minnesota Academic Health Center. The Tobacco  Research Programs has also participated in numerous clinical trials funded by National Institutes on Health or sponsored by pharmaceutical companies using nicotine replacement or new medications.

"The FDA's recent announcement that a proposed ban on menthol in tobacco products is a policy change that will have significant health impacts for generations," noted Douglas Yee, MD, Director of the Masonic Cancer Center. "Menthol has been used as a way to enhance the use of cigarettes, the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Even more importantly, menthol-flavored cigarettes have been intentionally marketed to Black Americans. Banning menthol flavoring will help address cancer health disparities in the US."

Read the full FDA release here.

About the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

The Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, is the Twin Cities’ only Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated ‘Outstanding’ by the National Cancer Institute. As Minnesota’s Cancer Center, our researchers, educators, and clinicians have worked to discover the causes, prevent, detect, and treat cancer and cancer-related diseases for all Minnesotans without disparity. Learn more at