The FDA Wants To Ban Menthol Cigarettes

Let it never again be said that the government doesn’t care about health in the hood.

After months of research, a recommendation was handed down that the FDA probably should ban menthols. But those things make too much money for us to see that happening anytime soon.

Taking menthol cigarettes off the market would benefit public health, the Food and Drug Administration’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee concluded Friday after a year of reviewing the issue.

Panel members stopped short of recommending specific regulatory action by the FDA, such as banning menthol cigarettes, which are preferred by about 30% of smokers overall and 80% of African-American smokers. Minty menthol has been the only cigarette flavor on the market since Congress gave the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco products in 2009.

Although scientific evidence doesn’t suggest menthol cigarettes are more likely to cause smoking-related illnesses than regular cigarettes, their availability probably increases the number of smokers in the general population, particularly African Americans and youths, the committee said in its final report. One contributing factor is manufacturers’ marketing of menthol cigarettes, the report said.

In addition, the report said, African Americans find it more difficult to quit smoking menthol cigarettes than non-menthol cigarettes, the committee said.

“None of us know what the FDA will do,” committee Chairman Jonathan Samet, a preventive medicine professor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, said after the panel met at the agency’s headquarters.

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