Subtitle Menthol ban and other efforts needed to prevent a new generation of smokers and help adults quit Washington – The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) today praised the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for beginning to take action to stem the growing public health threat from youth use of e-cigarettes and other nicotine devices and pledged to work with government, public health and private partners to re-double efforts to keep kids from smoking and help adults quit. “The FDA proposals to limit flavors and restrict the places in which e-cigarettes are sold are a good first step toward reducing adolescent use of e-cigarettes, which can make youth and young adults more likely to use conventional cigarettes in the future,” said Scott Serota, president and CEO of BCBSA. “Commissioner Gottlieb is right acting now to begin confronting this emerging public health threat before it becomes a true public health crisis.” BCBSA also welcomes the proposed FDA ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes, which are more addictive and more likely to be used by smokers between the ages of 12 to 17 years old. Menthol cigarettes also contribute to health disparities, and have been particularly harmful to African-Americans, who have been the target of menthol marketing for generations and disproportionately smoke menthol brands. With a 78 percent increase in e-cigarettes use in 2018 among high school-aged kids alone, there is more that can be done. The FDA has broad authority under the law to take further actions, including banning the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products that have not been subject to public health review. BCBSA will work with policymakers, public health groups and other partners to help ensure that children are protected from harmful products, while continuing efforts to help current adult smokers quit. While there has been enormous progress in reducing smoking and tobacco use among adults and youth, more needs to be done to help current smokers quit. Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death among Americans, with more than 480,000 people dying each year. Tobacco use costs the United States approximately $170 billion in health expenditures each year, a cost borne by everyone in the healthcare system.