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Holding Hands

Our History

From a fledgling unfunded group of determined African American commercial tobacco control activists, the AATCLC has built an incredible track record as an organization that has changed the trajectory of commercial tobacco control in the U.S.

Since its 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, community based coalitions, and municipalities working to pass ordinances to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.

The AATCLC are trailblazers and were active partners with the city of Chicago when in 2013 it passed the first ever legislation to restrict the sale of mentholated and flavored commercial 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, including best practices for flavored tobacco policy work to be replicated on the local level.

As of 2022, over 230 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 in integral role in these historic advances.

Our Success

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 commercial 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 commercial 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. The AATCLC is in the business of saving Black lives and we are excited about the public health strides we have made, yet our work is far from done. As we expand and build on our success, we look forward to the next decade of commercial tobacco control work and social norm changes that will occur in our local California communities and nationwide. The AATCLC will continue to fight for justice and health equity in our communities.

Strategic Plan

Our Mission

Formed in 2008, the mission of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) is to inform and influence the direction of commercial tobacco control as it affects the lives of African American and African immigrant communities. The AATCLC works at the intersection of social injustice, health equity, 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 commercial tobacco products to one of national concern and action.


Strategic Priorities

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AATCLC will cultivate new leaders for the organization and transition key roles to them.

  • Outline a future-ready leadership structure, with role-specific Leadership profiles. 

  • Identify new leaders and transition them into new roles.

  • Expand general leadership development activities for continuous grooming of potential leaders.


AATCLC will create new structures that efficiently harness the resources of the organization.

  • Reorganize the work of the AATCLC into committees led by Council Members.

  • Review and refine the roles needed for both current and organizational functions and future expansion. 


AATCLC will reinforce and enhance the capacity of the organization through new and diverse sources of funding. 

  • Explore and encourage entrepreneurial opportunities that capitalize on the talent and expertise of AATCLC membership in order to secure additional funding and resources to support the mission.

  • Expand partnerships that will allow AATCLC to access public and private funding in support of aligned organizational aims. 


AATCLC will seek further opportunities to engage outside of California to orient its mission more nationally and globally. 

  • Design a regional approach to execute geographic expansion with California serving as the central hub of support and direction.

  • Recruit a professional advocacy presence in Washington, DC focused on promoting tobacco control at the federal level.

  • Establish AATCLC as one of the leading organizations in tobacco control that is based not only in CA, but also DC, with an openness to other hubs as leaders are trained. 

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