Senators want FDA to ban sale of menthol cigarettes

BOSTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. Edward Markey is calling for a ban on menthol cigarettes, arguing that tobacco companies disproportionately target African-Americans when they market and promote the cigarettes.

The Massachusetts Democrat is leading a group of fellow senators in calling on the Food and Drug Administration to prohibit the cigarettes, noting that African-Americans suffer the greatest burden of tobacco-related mortality of any ethnic or racial group in the U.S.

The letter to the FDA sent earlier this week was also signed by fellow Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, of Rhode Island, and Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut.

The letter notes that in 2011, the FDA conducted a scientific review that concluded “menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with non-menthol cigarettes.”

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