FDA Will Lead an Independent Analysis of Menthol Cigarettes

Published on July 20th, 2011 14:38

At present the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is leading an independent analysis of research on the public health influence of menthol tobacco products, which are the most popular on the cigarette market. The results of the analysis will be published in the autumn of 2011. “Our analysis is meant to guarantee that the most appropriate science is implemented in order to back regulatory and programmed decision making,” said FDA representative Jeff Ventura.

The given analysis comes after the FDA received a report from the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee on the menthol cigarettes. Such panels as the tobacco committee counsel the FDA on various scientific matters. The agency may not follow its recommendations, but sometimes it does.

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The report, which was mandated under the 2009 law allowing the agency the power to control tobacco, declared eliminating menthol smokes from the market would improve public health, because the given flavoring has raised the number of smokers, mostly among teenagers, African Americans and people with low incomes. Also menthol is a rather addictive flavoring, which makes it harder for smokers to quit. However, the report states that menthol cigarettes are not likely to be the highest risk of illnesses or exposed to a higher number of toxins.

The report concluded that more investigation is needed and the federal agency should elaborate a program to control the marketing of menthol smokes. It also advised the FDA about a ban or several restrictions in order to exclude the possible contraband of menthol cigarettes.

A ban or restrictions on menthol flavoring would significantly affect Lorillard Inc., whose Newport brand is the most popular and best-selling brand in the U.S., with approximately 35% of the market. “We believe that impartial and thorough scientific analysis will make the agency conclude that menthol cigarettes do not present higher harm than non-menthol tobacco products,” Gregg Perry, a representative for Lorillard stated in an interview.

Richmond-based Altria Group Inc., holding company of the largest cigarette producer Philip Morris USA declared that the analysis of menthol flavoring should be based on evidences.

Many experts believe that FDA won’t prohibit menthol, which is preferred by about 19 million Americans. The percentage of menthol smokers increased from 31% in 2004 to 33.9 % in 2008, according to findings.

Also there are a lot of evidences which demonstrate that menthol smokers believe that this flavoring offers some health protection than non-menthol cigarettes. Also menthols are marketed to African Americans in large quantities. Thus a tobacco industry report to the FDA admits that all tobacco products are dangerous but underlines that there is no scientific basis for controlling menthols in a different way. “We hope that FDA will soon announce its conclusions on the given report,” said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

By Kevin Lawson, Staff Writer. Copyright © 2011 TobaccoPub.com. All rights reserved.

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