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. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    Adeiny Hechavarria is quick to make his presence felt.
  3. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  4. At College World Series, the save goes to an LSU dad/doctor

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The father of LSU pitcher Jared Poche' helped revive an 87-year-old man who was slumped on the TD Ameritrade Park concourse with no pulse during Game 1 of the College World Series finals.

    UF’s Tyler Dyson delivers against LSU in Tuesday’s late CWS Game 2. Go to tampabay.com/sports.
  5. Plant City police searching for drive-by shooter

    News

    PLANT CITY — Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in an early morning drive-by shooting outside a home.

    John J. Keeper, 49, was shot in the thigh in a drive-by shooting early Tuesday outside this home at 516 E Laura St. in Plant City. [Hillsborough County Property Appraiser]