FDA to Consider the Impact of Menthol Cigarettes

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Menthol cigarettes account for more than one-third of the American cigarette market, and menthol-smoking trend even keeps growing. Public Health advocates claim that the fame of menthol cigaretts particularly among new smokers should be decreased; however, it demands consideration and will lead to negative aftermaths.

Menthol and cigarettes

The latest meeting of the recently-formed Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, established after the American Food and Drug Administration was authorized to regulate tobacco industry, will be devoted to the health risks related to the consumption of menthol flavoring in tobacco. The meeting is scheduled for March 31 and will be held in Washington, DC.

The Committee will consider and advice to the FDA of the methods of regulating mentholated tobacco products. Menthol is the sole flavor not covered by the Tobacco Control Act, which banned such flavorings as fruit, vanilla and chocolate in cigarettes, however, it could be banned if there is reliable evidence on the risks of its prolonged consumption in cigarettes.

In conformity with a nationwide survey, smokers who took up cigarettes lately are more probably to consume menthol cigarettes than experienced cigarette lovers. Moreover, the number of present smokers who prefer mentholated cigarettes is growing.

According to the survey, the consumption of menthol cigarettes is higher among smokers who began puffing over the last 12 months (44.6 percent) than among experienced smokers (32percent). Also, among smokers who lit up during the last month, the number of those who preferred menthol cigaretes grew up from nearly 31 percent in 2004 to almost 34 percent in 2008. Such growth is the most perceptible among teenage tobacco users (4 percent increase) and among younger adults (from 34 percent to 41 percent).

Eric Broderick, Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration admitted that menthol flavoring may have its appeal in encouraging the smoking habit – one of the most severe problems of public health across the USA. He added that the evident fascination that mentholated cigarettes exert on adolescent smokers is very concerning since menthol tobacco products can lure more teenagers and younger adults to start the hazardous smoking habit.

The research demonstrates that the number of smokers who prefer menthol cigarettes among Black Americans (83 percent) is much higher than among Hispanic populations (32 percent) and White Americans (24 percent) and other populations. Among Black Americans, the experienced smokers were more probably to consume mentholated cigarettes than those who started smoking over the last 12 months, while the opposite behavior is found among other populations.

In addition, there was a considerable increase in the number of male menthol smokers, which went up from 26.9 percent in 2004 to 30.8 percent in 2008.

Menthol flavoring is an ingredient added to cigarettes in order to conceal the harshness of tobacco, by providing a feeling of coolness and freshness during the process of smoking. However, when concealing the harshness, mentholated cigs could ease the way to cigarettes for the adolescents. Several recent studies found out that menthol cigarettes can be harder to give up than the regular flavored ones.

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