The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that menthol cigarettes probably pose a risk to health that is even greater than regular cigarettes. But they still won’t limit or prohibit their sale.
After consultations with Big Tobacco and health professionals, they decided that there was no evidence to prove that menthol flavored cigarettes were less toxic than regular cigarettes. The problem is not the toxicity: it’s that the flavor is more appealing to young people and it encourages them to smoke more. And there is evidence that menthol smokers find it more difficult to quit.
Mitch Zeller, director of the Center for Tobacco Products, told reporters: ”Menthol cigarettes raise critical public health questions.” The same questions arose in 2011 after an FDA advisory panel advised totally removing menthol cigarettes from the market.
The tobacco industry’s response was that any limitations would create a ” black market” in the product. Their interest is that menthol cigarettes is a growth area in an otherwise shrinking market. Between 2008 and 2011 the percentage of menthol smokers grew from 33.9 percent to 37.5 percent.
The tobacco company that would suffer the most from a ban on menthol cigarettes is Lorillard. Its Newport brand is the top selling menthol cigarette in the U.S. with almost 38 percent of the market. Murray Kessler, CEO of Lorillard, said that he didn’t believe that menthol cigarettes should be treated any differently.
He obviously believes that each person has the right to choose how to best face the prospect of death. Smoking cigarettes may kill you – but menthol flavor is a much tastier way to go!
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