As a cardiologist at the Deborah Heart and Lung Center and chair of the board of directors of the American Heart Association, I have witnessed the negative effects of tobacco.
I strongly support the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rule to remove menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars from the market. I also support efforts in New Jersey to remove menthol cigarettes from the market and urge the Legislature and Governor to go further and remove all flavored tobacco products from the Garden State market.
Many young people who smoke start with menthol cigarettes. In fact, young people who smoke have the highest rates of menthol cigarette use, and about half of all people under the age of 25 who smoke use menthol-flavored products.
Big Tobacco has a disgraceful record of targeting youth and adults in black communities with menthol products, resulting in disproportionately higher usage rates among black smokers – approximately 85% use menthols. These companies spend millions of dollars marketing their menthol brands to keep their addictive cigarettes cheap and highly visible in black communities.
Removing menthol cigarettes from the market is an essential step to reducing tobacco use and advancing health equity. I urge the FDA to maintain this strict rule and remove all menthol cigarettes from the market. I also urge Trenton lawmakers to close the loopholes by banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including hookah and pipe tobacco. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. It is linked to around a third of all deaths from heart disease and 90% of lung cancers. Removing these products will save lives and reduce health care costs.
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ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS ANIMAL HOSPITAL
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-Renée Patrice Bullock-Palmer, MD, FACC, FAHA, FASNC, FASE, FSCCT
Director, Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging
Director, Women’s Heart Center
Deborah Heart and Lung Center