Menthol gives cough drops, lip balm and other drugstore remedies that cool minty taste and slight numbing quality. Now the Food and Drug Administration has taken an extended-awaited step toward saying that in newport menthol cigarettes, those same qualities do more damage than good.
Yesterday the FDA announced an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, which can be bureaucrat-speak with signal that after years of argument between public health advocates along with the tobacco industry, the government health agency is edging nearer to regulating menthol in cigarettes.
Over one-third of all cigarettes purchased in the United States are menthols, and 40 percent of new smokers pick menthols.
That is because menthol masks the harshness of tobacco smoke, and makes it easier for individuals to start smoking and have hooked, anti-tobacco advocates say. “The menthol anesthetizes the throat and changes the unpleasantness of your tobacco smoke,” David Abrams, executive director of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Legacy, an advocacy group, tells Shots. “It’s smooth, it’s cool. It really will make it more pleasing, particularly for the very first cigarette.”
Although the tobacco industry begs to differ. Businesses like Lorillard Inc., that makes Newport, the nation’s most in-demand menthol smoke, say that menthol is simply flavoring, and this menthol cigarettes shouldn’t be regulated differently than any others.
A completely independent scientific review released by the FDA yesterday sides with the menthol-as-gateway-drug faction.
The reviewers discovered that menthol cigarettes are no more toxic than non-menthols. They also found out that menthol is associated with more smoking among teenagers, and “is likely related to greater addiction. Menthol smokers show greater signs of nicotine dependence and so are unlikely to actually stop smoking.” Thus, the FDA concludes, there may be “likely a public health impact of menthol in cigarettes.”
This virtually repeats the findings of the 2011 independent scientific review. Back then, the business argued that there was no scientific evidence that Newport Non-Menthol Gold cigarettes acquire more affect on public health. The FDA advisory report disputes that, though gently.
The question of menthol in cigarettes was being argued well before then, too. Only since 2009, when Congress gave the FDA the authority to regulate cigarettes, has there been the possibility of some kind of federal restriction.
Menthol has been used as being a fix for centuries as it triggers cold sensors inside the skin, giving a sensation of coolness even though there’s no change in temperature. That’s why it’s devqpky60 sunburn gels, analgesic rubs like IcyHot, and decongestants like VapoRub and Mentholatum.
The chemical was originally produced by mint, which is now made synthetically in order to meet global demand.
One issue sure to surface is just how a ban or restrictions would affect African-Americans. They may be far very likely to smoke menthols than other types of cigarettes. Nearly three-quarters of African American smokers choose menthols, as do 30 percent of Latino smokers. Only about 20 percent of white Newport Non-Menthol Gold 100’s Cigarettes.
The FDA review says that marketing geared towards those communities could explain the real difference, but the agency also says it plans to study research to ascertain if there are actually genetic differences that can explain that preference.
Public health advocates say banning menthol is needed decrease the rate of illness and premature death in minority communities already dealing with disproportionate health burdens. But Lorillard’s “Understanding Menthol” website casts menthol as being a freedom associated with preference issue, proclaiming that “Americans have a right to generate a personal option to use any legal product.”