This week, Counter Tools along with 96 other organizations submitted a report to the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), an international human rights body made up of independent experts responsible for monitoring the implementation of the International Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The report highlights the ongoing epidemic of harms caused by menthol cigarettes in the United States. Menthol makes it easier to start smoking and harder to quit, resulting in a higher death toll for African Americans who have been targeted with menthol cigarettes.
The United States is a party to the ICERD; however, the United States is almost four years past due to submit its report to this important human rights treaty aimed at reducing racial inequities. Therefore, our organizations also sent a letter calling on the State Department to expedite the U.S. government’s report to CERD.
ICERD is legally binding for member State parties (including the United States); each State has the obligation to uphold and implement all provisions of the Convention, which include provisions on health, namely that everyone, regardless of race, color, origin, etc., has a right to public health.
The CERD committee typically does not review the human rights records of countries until the government has submitted their report, so it is essential that the U.S. government fulfill its human rights obligations and submit its report.
Menthol, specifically the targeted advertising of menthol cigarettes, is an obstacle to the right to health of African Americans. The goal of this report is to encourage the ICERD committee to demand that the U.S. government take action to protect African Americans from the harms of menthol.
“By continuing to allow the sale of menthol cigarettes, the United States is failing to protect the health of African Americans,” said ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber. “It is the government’s duty to protect its citizens’ human rights. The CERD committee can and should implore the U.S. government to fulfill that duty by putting an end to the sale of menthol cigarettes.”