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Formed in 2008, the mission of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) is to inform and influence the direction of tobacco control as it affects the lives of African American and African Immigrant communities. The AATCLC works at the intersection of social injustice and public health policy. Working with health jurisdictions, elected officials, community-based organizations, tobacco researchers, activists, faith-based communities, and the media, the AATCLC plays a key role in elevating the once obscure issue of regulating the sale of menthol and flavored tobacco products to one of national concern and action.
From a fledgling unfunded group of determined African American tobacco control activists, the AATCLC has built an incredible track record as an organization that has changed the trajectory of tobacco control in the US.
Since their inception, the AATCLC has worked incredibly hard. They have traveled across the country, engaging with communities, while building community capacity and igniting along the way a growing number of empowered members of the Black Community. They have also provided technical assistance to health departments, private foundations, coalitions, and municipalities working to pass ordinances that would prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.
The AATCLC was active partners with the city of Chicago when in 2013 it passed the first-ever legislation to restrict the sale of mentholated and flavored tobacco products. Since Chicago’s historic legislation, which had only applied to retailers within a 500 ft. radius of schools, the regulation of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products has evolved.
Now, almost a hundred American jurisdictions, including the states of Massachusetts and California, have passed legislation that prohibits the sales of these products throughout their entire jurisdiction. The AATCLC has played an integral role in these historic advances.
The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council is our country’s leading public health education and advocacy organization taking on Big Tobacco to save Black lives
We have grown our coalition of national and local organizations, traveled across the country to educate communities and build grassroots infrastructure, gotten major pieces of legislation ending the sale of menthol-flavored tobacco products passed in cities, counties, and states across the country, and sued the FDA to act on removing menthol flavored tobacco products from the market nationally.
Our work is making a difference in the lives of millions of African Americans but we are just getting started. We won’t give up our fight until there are no more African Americans who lose their life because of tobacco.
In April 2021, the FDA announced its intention to propose a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored little cigars - a long overdue step towards ending decades of racialized tobacco industry predation on African Americans! Each year 45,000 African Americans lose their lives to tobacco induced diseases due in large part to mentholated tobacco products.
The lawsuit was filed on June 17, 2020, and asserted that, contrary to the duties imposed by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (“Tobacco Control Act”), the FDA failed to act on their own research studies that decisively concluded that taking mentholated cigarettes off the market would benefit public health. The FDA decision was in response to the AATCLC lawsuit filed with co-plaintiffs, Action on Smoking and Health, the American Medical Association, and the National Medical Association, which included a request for the court to compel the FDA to respond to a Citizens Petition that had been submitted in 2013.
While the FDA’s proposed ban on menthol cigarettes is real progress, it is merely a step in dismantling the historic and systemic predation of decades of tobacco industry targeting. It is equally merely a step in addressing the malignant neglect of the public health systems that are mandated to protect all citizens, including African Americans. There is still much work to be done to end the blight of tobacco use and protect the health of African Americans. The AATCLC will continue to fight for justice and health equity in our communities.
Our coast to coast impact
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