Menthol Cigarettes May Cause Greater Health Risks

A Food and Drug Administration review concludes that menthol cigarettes likely pose a greater public health risk than regular cigarettes, according to the Huffington Post.

“The federal agency released the independent review on Tuesday and is seeking input from the health community, the tobacco industry and others on possible restrictions on the mint-flavored cigarettes.”

The Huffington Post stated that the “FDA evaluation concluded that there is little evidence to suggest that menthol cigarettes are more or less toxic or contribute to more disease risk to smokers than regular cigarettes.”

“However, there is adequate data to suggest that menthol use is likely associated with increased smoking initiation by younger people and that menthol smokers have a harder time quitting, the review said.”

According to the Washington Post, when Congress gave the FDA power to regulate tobacco in 2009, lawmakers banned candy, fruit and spice flavored cigarettes, saying manufacturers had used such products to lure young smokers into addiction.

With the new study into menthol cigarettes showing that they are overwhelmingly favored by African Americans and teenagers, new regulations could be set in place against them.

Mitch Zeller, director of the Center for Tobacco Products, said in a conference call with reporters: “Menthol cigarettes raise critical public health question.”

The percentage of U.S. cigarette smokers using menthol brands grew from 33.9 percent in 2008 to 37.5 percent in 2011, according to a study by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, according to The Huffington Post.

The Washington Post stated that a report backed by R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco Company, maker of Newport, the country’s most prevalent brand of menthol cigarettes, warned of “grave unintended consequences if the government banned menthol.”

“The evidence unequivocally shows that the result would be a dramatically larger illegal cigarette market than currently exists,” it stated.

“As a result, there also would be severe negative impacts on public health, including exposure of smokers to more harmful contraband cigarettes, increased access of youth to tobacco, increased criminal activity particularly in urban communities, reduced government revenues and loss of jobs.”

What do you think of the possibilities of putting a restriction or even a ban on menthol cigarettes?

[photo credit: SimonQ錫濛譙 via photopin cc]