Monday, March 21, 2011

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) recently concluded that the “removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States.”  This recommendation to the FDA is based on prevailing science surrounding menthol cigarettes.  Although menthol cigarettes do not contain more toxins, they increase the number of young people who try cigarettes and the number of children who become regular smokers, increasing overall youth smoking.  Menthol cigarettes have also been found to be more appealing to African-Americans and therefore contribute to higher smoking rates and decreased cessation among this population.

The TPSAC final report is set to go through a systematic review by experts from the FDA Center for Tobacco Products.  They are to take into account menthol cigarettes’ risks and benefits to the population, effects on overall smoking initiation and cessation rates, achievability, and consequential effects that may arise, such as demand for contraband.  The FDA intends to provide its first progress report on the review in about 90 days.

Partnership for Prevention supports the TPSAC’s recommendations and urges the FDA to take action to ban menthol to curb the uptake of smoking by youth and promote cessation among other high-risk groups.  The tobacco industry’s incessant marketing of menthol cigarettes to youth, African Americans and other communities are threats to the public’s health.  We are hopeful that the FDA will recognize the harmful impact of menthol cigarettes on the health of the nation and employ the committee’s advice.

Harmeet Singh
Tobacco Control Team


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