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Menthol Cigarettes may be banned by FDA

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  • Menthol Cigarettes may be banned by FDA

    Menthol cigarettes are mint flavored to counteract the taste that new smokers dislike in normal cigarettes. However, the Food and Drug Administration has found that “the mint flavoring made it easier to start smoking and harder to quit.” Urged to come to a decision on whether menthol cigarettes should be banned, the FDA is now opening a 60 day public hearing period to hear what consumers think of a ban on these cigarettes.

    A third of cigarettes are menthol

    In 2009, Congress passed a ban on all other types of flavored cigarettes, leaving the regulation of menthol cigarettes to the FDA. Federal surveys have found, “Menthol cigarettes account for about a third of all cigarettes sold in the United States and are particularly popular among black smokers, about four out of five of whom report smoking them.”

    Menthol smoking is on the rise

    This step is still intermediary, however, and there is likely still a long ways to go before any real action is taken on the matter. Meanwhile, the popularity of menthol smoking is on the rise, especially in young adults. Many people expected action in 2011 when a group of health experts reported that menthol had “a negative effect on public health.” The new director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, explained, “The steps the agency took Tuesday showed that it was moving forward as fast as it could, but . . . did not foreshadow a ban.”

    Flavored cigarettes do not cause more diseases

    Zeller went on to emphasize that the FDA is a regulatory agency and as such, “can only go as far as the regulatory science will take us.” Lorillard, the U.S.’s biggest manufacturer of menthol cigarettes, has said that “the best available science demonstrates that menthol cigarettes have the same health effects as nonmenthol cigarettes and should be treated no differently.”

    Mint cigarettes harder to quit

    And in actuality, scientists have found that menthol cigarette smokers have no higher incidence of smoking-related disease than those who smoke nonmenthol cigarettes. However, the same scientists have said that the flavoring makes it easier for people to start smoking, which leads to “greater dependence on nicotine and decreased rates of quitting, conclusions that opponents of smoking say should spur the agency to action.”

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