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FDA Panel Says Menthol Cigarettes Are Harmful, But Don’t Ban Them

FDA Panel Says Menthol Cigarettes Are Harmful, But Don’t Ban Them

In a report, a FDA advisory panel explained that although menthol cigarettes seem to be a significant factor in the rise of smoking among adolescents, they don’t recommend a total ban, instead urging further study of the issue.  This would presumably lead to more moderate actions or regulation, in an attempt to limit young people’s access to the cigarettes.

Even though the report concluded that the “removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States,” a researcher for an independent firm explained that he saw little in the report to suggest an “outright ban.”

This seems to be motivated primarily by political pragmatism. The Republican-controlled House is unlikely to pass restrictions on cigarettes, and President Obama, who is struggling with a number of different controversial issues, may not be willing to shoulder another.

The debate over menthol cigarettes is complicated by a racial dimension, because they’re preferred by 80 percent of black smokers. Black civic groups have stepped forward, saying that a ban on menthol cigarettes would disproportionately affect black consumers. The cigarettes were not included in 2009 tobacco restrictions which sought to ban flavorings, because they tend to draw in young smokers.

What cigarette companies really fear, according to Robert Proctor, a professor at Stanford, is being forced to limit the amount of nicotine in their products. But since the FDA is unwilling to call for a ban on menthol, cigarette companies don’t need to start worrying about that problem yet.

The bottom line seems to be this: smoking is still bad for you (it’s the leading cause of preventable death in the United States), and menthol flavoring only makes cigarettes more appealing. But it’s not politically viable to ban such a large portion of the cigarette market, so for now, the only thing that might happen are increased restrictions on consumers.


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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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9:12AM PDT on Aug 25, 2011

There are enough warnings on the hazards of smoking and banning cigarettes is not going to prevent people from smoking

11:32AM PDT on Apr 21, 2011

I love Menthol cigarettes. I had to quit smoking for major surgery and found menthol flavor AirE8 Electronic Cigarettes are soooo REALISTIC that I do not miss my tobacco ciggs at all.

I need the flavor - the kick - and the hand to mouth action. I love my AirE8 and will never have to worry about tar other cigarette chemicals again. Go to the website for more info on the menthol cigarette ban.

11:12AM PDT on Mar 30, 2011

the gov loves cigarette money yes they do.

5:08PM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

It's not the tobacco doing as much harm as the pesticides left on the leaves when brought in for processing.
All tobacco is unhealthy,so is our food with it's pesticides,and antibiotics,and drugs to grow animals faster & bigger.
Grow it yourself.Leave the government out of it all.They only mess everything up anyway.All they,and big corporations care about it the bottom line.They do not care about anything but the money.
I used to be a smoker.I would not sue for my choice to smoke, or to continue to do so.Taking responsibility for our own actions is being forgotten.That is wrong!

3:15AM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

Any smoking is bad for you - I'm not sure how anyone could believe otherwise. It shouldn't be showed in movies or TV shows either. Smoking is too encouraged by the media.

7:30PM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

OoooooooP's did I forget flavored pipe tobacco too.

7:23PM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

If flavoring was banded in 2009 on cigarettes, why wasn't it banded on cigars also. Cigars are the same as cigarettes except they don't have the "ette" ending word. Did someone in the FDA over look that. Hmmmmm! How many people in congress and the FDA smoke cigars say "I"

7:10PM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

Personally, I am disgusted that so many adult smoke in front of their children- and smoking still goes on in movies- of course kids want to smoke- and menthols apparently don't smell or taste as bad, so they are more alluring...

2:15PM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

Alcohol, tobacco and firearms--these three lethal industries have an agency with all three combined for federal oversight and regulation. With the revolving doors between industry and government regulatory agencies, the status quo is maintained.

2:11PM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

The industry doesn't have to be shut down. Tobacco interests can be protected by allowing them to export their products while banning them in the US.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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