Menthol and Flavored Tobacco

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Why menthol and flavored tobacco?

Menthol flavoring in cigarettes makes them easier to inhale, which makes it easier for new tobacco users to start using tobacco products and harder for current tobacco users to quit. 

Tobacco companies use marketing and products like menthol to increase addiction, and they target some communities more than others. 

We see these disparities in Washtenaw County: 

  • Our smoking rate for African American residents is higher than our county’s smoking rate (17% among African Americans compared to 11% overall). 
  • African Americans suffer the greatest burden of tobacco-related death and disease of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. 

In addition, young people prefer flavored tobacco, including menthol, which has increased their tobacco use rates:

  • A majority (85%) of youth e-cigarette users report using flavored products. 
  • Nearly half of young people who have ever smoked started with menthol cigarettes.
  • Young people who start with menthols are more likely to become addicted.

What can be done

The Washtenaw County Health Department and health policy experts recommend a comprehensive menthol and flavor ban to prevent further harm. Research estimates that a menthol ban would save 650,000 lives over the next 40 years. 

According to a recent poll conducted by Compass Strategies in August 2022:

  • 79% of Washtenaw County residents are concerned about young people using tobacco products.
  • 77% of Washtenaw County residents support ending the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.

The Washtenaw County Health Department is working as part of the M[END]THOL campaign to promote education around the tactics used by the tobacco industry to push harmful products like menthol and flavored tobacco. 

Local actions and resources

  • On 4/28/23, the Board of Health passed a resolution advocating for ending the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol products, and repealing local preemption of tobacco licensure and sales policies in Michigan.
  • On 6/7/23, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution earlier urging the Michigan Legislature to end the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol products. Additionally, the resolution asks them to repeal local preemption laws that prohibit municipalities to regulate tobacco control on the local level.
  • The Keep MI Kids Tobacco Free Alliance is working to improve tobacco policy in Michigan. This non-lobbying letter of support template can be used to share your voice with elected officials. 

Join our Health Department email list to receive updates on menthol and flavored tobacco, local initiatives, and opportunities to get involved.