Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FDA sees menthol cigarettes as greater health risk

Menthol cigarettes mask the harshness of tobacco, making it easier to get addicted and harder to quit, the FDA says.

Associated Press

Menthol cigarettes mask the harshness of tobacco, making it easier to get addicted and harder to quit, the FDA says.

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration said for the first time Tuesday that menthol-flavored cigarettes appear to pose a greater risk to public health than standard cigarettes, largely reaffirming the findings of an agency advisory committee two years ago and potentially laying the groundwork for tighter regulations in the future.

In a 153-page "preliminary scientific evaluation," the FDA found that although there is "little evidence" to suggest that menthol cigarettes are more toxic than nonmenthol cigarettes, the mint flavor of menthol masks the harshness of tobacco, making it easier to get addicted and harder to quit.

Despite those findings, the FDA stopped short Tuesday of proposing specific restrictions or a ban on menthol, instead saying it would solicit public input for the next two months before deciding how to proceed. That probably means that any potential regulations remain months, if not years, from becoming reality.

The issue of menthol in cigarettes has long been controversial, in part because menthol cigarettes overwhelmingly are favored by African-Americans and teenagers. Sales of them account for about a quarter of the U.S. cigarette market. But about 80 percent of black smokers prefer menthol, as do nearly half of all young smokers.

Congress banned candy-, fruit- and spice-flavored cigarettes when it gave the FDA the power to regulate tobacco in 2009, saying manufacturers had used such products to lure young smokers into addiction. But the law exempted menthol, instead instructing the FDA to study the issue to determine whether restricting or banning menthol would benefit public health.

In 2010, an FDA advisory panel made up of doctors, scientists and public-health experts convened to weigh that question. The next year, the group issued a 250-page report saying that menthol made it easier to get hooked and more difficult to quit smoking. The group concluded that "removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit the public health in the United States."

The tobacco industry has steadfastly defended its use of menthol, saying it is no more harmful than any other type of tobacco.

FDA sees menthol cigarettes as greater health risk 07/23/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 10:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated

    College

    TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humiliation at Temple.

    Bulls tailback Darius Tice, who rushes for 117 yards, is elated by his 47-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
  2. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person

    College

    TAMPA

    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  3. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.
  4. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”
  5. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings