The complaint requests the court compel the FDA to fulfil its mandate to take action on FDA's own conclusions that it would benefit the public health to add menthol to the list of prohibited characterising flavours and therefore ban it from sale, the report said.
"We stand before you today to announce that we are suing the United States Food and Drug Administration for their failure to implement public health policy that protects the health and welfare of African Americans with respect to menthol cigarettes," Carol McGruder, founding member and co-chair of the AATCLC, was quoted as saying.
This lawsuit brings to the forefront the lack of action from the FDA to fulfil its mandate concerning whether menthol products should be taken off the shelves. In 2009, Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The act created a flavour ban in cigarettes but excluded menthol, subject to further research. In 2011, the FDA's Advisory Committee concluded that the "Removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States."
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, smoking-related illnesses are the number one cause of death in the African American community, and 85 percent of African American smokers smoke menthol cigarettes., according to the report.
"By continuing to delay, the FDA and the US government are failing to protect the health of US citizens, particularly African Americans, and the US is also falling behind the global trend as countries around the world are increasingly banning menthol," Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, managing attorney at ASH, was quoted as saying.