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Page updated Jul 29, 2013 10:23 AM

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Restrictions on Menthol Cigarettes Possible

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking public input about possible regulatory action it might take regarding menthol in cigarettes.

Menthol acts by triggering specific sensory nerves of the body, providing a cooling, soothing feeling. Because it reduces the irritation of tobacco, menthol makes it easier for the uninitiated to start smoking. The menthol taste also makes it more difficult for smokers to quit.

Public health research confirms that menthol in cigarettes increases the initiation of smoking among youth and leads to greater addiction among smokers. While approximately 30% of all cigarette sales are those with menthol, 80% of African-American smokers consume menthol cigarettes primarily. It is important to note that the rate of new cases of lung and bronchus cancers among African American males in 2009 was 43.2 % higher than the rate for White males.

Menthol cigarettes are banned in Brazil. The European Union is currently implementing a ban on menthol cigarettes in an effort to reduce the number of young people who become addicted to tobacco.

The FDA welcomes public comment by September 23, 2013, at!documentDetail;D=FDA_FRDOC_0001-4088.

Alexandria Public Health Experts Comment on Menthol in Cigarettes

“Cigarettes kill people. Cigarette manufacturers should not be allowed to use menthol to make their killing product temporarily more palatable.”

-- Stephen A. Haering, MD, MPH, FACPM, Health Director

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