Black Lawmakers Want to Limit Use of Menthol Cigarettes..

July 1, 2008 - The 43-member congressional Black Caucus is calling for changes to a House tobacco-regulation bill (Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act), demanding that the legislation place restrictions on menthol cigarettes, the type heavily favored by 75% of African-American smokers. The caucus is taking aim at a provision in the bill that would ban candy-, fruit- and spice-flavored cigarettes but that specifically exempts menthol. In recent weeks the exemption has become the focus of controversy because menthol brands are heavily used by black smokers, who develop a large share of smoking-related cancers and other health risks. On the other side of the debate, Lorillard, the cigarette company that would stand to lose the most from a ban on menthol, is mounting a counteroffensive. In e-mail messages sent on June 22, 2008 to smokers of its leading menthol brand, Newport, the company urged them to call their Congressional representatives.
(Newport, gives Lorillard 94% of its revenue, 92% of its volumes, 34% share of all menthol cigarette sales in the US, as well as an overall domestic tobacco market share of 10%.)
The legislation has passed crucial committees in both the House and the Senate, and supporters are hoping for floor votes this year. Reference: Black Lawmakers Seek Restrictions on Menthol Cigarettes by STEPHANIE SAUL, The New York Times, 7/1/2008. Related news brief: National African American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN), an antismoking group, pulls support for bill to regulate tobacco in the U.S.A...