Tobacco advisory panel advises FDA to ban menthol cigarettes


Menthol cigarette which is flavored with the compound menthol has been under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a long time.  FDA advisory panel says the minty smokes hurt public health and offer no benefits but did not make any specific recommendation for action by the FDA. Menthol cigarette accounts for an estimated 27% of the $80 billion cigarette market in the US that target to 19 million smokers.  Majority of menthol smokers are African-Americans, younger and lower income population.


The FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee said removal of menthol cigarettes from the US market would benefit public health. However, it is not clear whether the panel is recommending an outright ban of the cigarettes that are a key area for growth in the shrinking cigarette market.  There are many panels like the tobacco committee those advise the FDA on scientific issues. The agency doesn’t have to follow their recommendations but usually does.

The advisory panel’s recommendations are based on the following evidences- 

  • Menthol leads to more youth smoking
  • Menthol makes it easier to start smoking as menthol provides a cooling sensation that masks the harsh taste of tobacco
  • Menthol smokers are more likely to become regular smokers than those who smoke non-menthol cigarettes.
  • Menthol makes it harder for smokers to quit


FDA panel’s report also says menthol smokers are not likely to be at a higher...

risk of disease or exposed to a greater number of toxins but that the flavoring might make cigarettes more addictive.

Lawrence R. Deyton, director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products said FDA will review the findings of its Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee and perform its own research and policy study. The complete report is due to go to the FDA by March 23. The FDA is not bound by the panel’s recommendation and has no deadline to take any action. 

Lorillard Inc., nations third largest tobacco company whose Newport brand is the top-selling menthol cigarette in the U.S., with roughly 35% of the market has filed a lawsuit to prevent the FDA from considering the panel’s report in making any final decision on the cigarettes.  

A menthol ban or other restrictions on the flavored cigarettes would fall heavily on the menthol cigarettes manufacturers.   

Well! Cigarette is injurious for health in any case.   Use of menthol cigarettes is rising among teenagers and “very high” for minority youth, any regulation will certainly benefit the public and help youngsters to stay away from them.


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