Menthol cigarettes - if banned, how can this be accomplished??



December 14, 2009 - If you agree that our children are the future, then our highest priority has to be to keep children from beginning to use tobacco products.

As an initial step the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale of candy-, fruit- and clove-flavored cigarettes on September 22, 2009 - three months after the President Barack Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The FDA commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, commented that "These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers." when announcing the ban.

Big tobacco really did not mind taking these flavored cigarettes off the market. These cigarettes were not even one percent of the market.

Mentholated cigarettes, the most popular flavored cigarette with close to 30 percent of the market were allowed to stay on the market. So where sales of regular cigarettes continue to decrease in sales, menthol cigarettes continue to gain in popularity.

During the passage of the bill to regulate tobacco, the exemption of menthol proved controversial due to disproportionate use of menthol cigarettes by minorities. Seven former federal health secretaries joined to protest menthol’s special treatment and demanded that menthol-flavored cigarettes be banned just like the other flavored cigarettes. One of the former secretaries, Joseph A. Califano Jr., said the legislation was “clearly putting black children in the back of the bus.” He was referring to menthol cigarettes as being the choice of three out of four black smokers and being frequently preferred by young smokers. An estimated 80 percent of African-American teenage. Cristine Delnevo, Director of the Center for Tobacco Surveillance and Evaluation Research at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, has said, "Historically, tobacco companies have targeted minority populations when marketing menthol cigarettes." (Menthol Cigarettes More Addictive to U.S. Minorities)

As a compromise, the FDA is tasked with developing a report on the risks of menthol flavoring and issuing a recommendation based on its findings. The report is currently scheduled to be published in August 2010, but the group tasked with producing the report, the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, is still in the process of being staffed, potentially delaying the report and therefore any enforcement action. The report will be a review of studies already conducted.

The scientific evidence for removing menthol from cigarettes is vast; the advisory committee should NOT problem agreeing that menthol cigarettes should be removed from the market.

A few examples:

The majority of menthol cigarette smokers are young smokers under the age of 45. According to a recent study by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, menthol cigarette use is higher among persons who started smoking in the past year (44.6 percent) than among longer-term smokers (31.8 percent). In addition, among persons who smoked in the past month, the percentage using menthol cigarettes increased from 31.0 percent in 2004 to 33.9 percent in 2008. This increase was most pronounced among adolescent smokers aged 12 to 17 (up from 43.5 percent to 47.7 percent), and young adult smokers aged 18 to 25 (up from 34.1 percent to 40.8 percent). (Menthol Cigarettes - smokers who started recently more likely to smoke menthols..)

Hymowitz et al. studied menthol cigarette smoking among adults who participated in a stop-smoking study. Among African Americans who smoked menthol cigarettes (n=174), the top reasons given for smoking menthols were as follows: 83% said that menthol cigarettes tasted better than non-menthol, 63% said that they had always smoked menthol cigarettes, 52% said that menthol cigarettes were less harsh to the throat than non-menthol cigarettes, 48% found inhalation to be easier with menthol cigarettes and 33% said they could inhale menthol cigarettes more deeply. Among a sample (n=39) of whites who smoked menthol cigarettes, 51% said that menthol cigarettes were soothing to the throat, 39% said that they had always smoked menthol cigarettes and 21% found inhalation easier with menthol cigarettes.

African Americans continue to suffer disproportionately from chronic and preventable disease compared with white Americans. Of the three leading causes of death - heart disease, cancer and stroke - smoking and other tobacco use are major contributors. African American men die from tobacco attributable cancers at a rate 34% higher than do white men and 58% higher incidence of lung cancer. Blacks have an 80% higher rate if death from stroke and have a 50% higher rate of death from heart disease than those in the general population. Each year approximately 45,000 African Americans die from a preventable smoking-related disease. (US Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Tobacco use among U.S. racial/ethnic minority groups: a report of the Surgeon General, CDC, 1998)

The U.S. National Cancer Institute is developing a website providing information on "Menthol and Tobacco."

The advisory group should have NO problem in recommending that mentholated cigarettes be removed from the market. The major task will be to determine how this can be accomplished.

It seems the only solution available to the committee would be to ban mentholated cigarettes over a long period of time. Approximately 29% of cigarettes sold in the U.S. are mentholated. State budgets, already devastated by unemployment and reduced tax collections, would suffer further reduced tax collections. States took in more than $16 billion from state cigarette excise taxes in 2008. Taking the most extreme case, if menthol cigarette users all seek illegal cigarette replacements, states would lose approximately $5 billion in revenue. The expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) financed by an increase in the federal excise tax in April 2009 would require funding from other sources. The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments, which totaled $8.8 billion in 2009, would be subject to a sharp downward revision due to volume provisions. Bootlegging of menthol cigarettes would increase exponentially.

States have borrowed against future MSA payments from the tobacco industry, they are now dependent on the continued vitality of cigarette sales. If Big Tobacco stumbles, states will be on the hook for these massive, billion-dollar loans. (Cigarette tax increase cut smoking less payment to states, harm bond repayment..)

State budgets, already devastated by unemployment and reduced tax collections, would suffer further reduced tax collections. States took in more than $16 billion from state cigarette excise taxes in 2008. Taking the most extreme case, if menthol cigarette users all seek illegal cigarette replacements, states would lose approximately $5 billion in revenue. The expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) financed by an increase in the federal excise tax in April 2009 would require funding from other sources. The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments, which totaled $8.8 billion in 2009, would be subject to a sharp downward revision due to volume provisions. Bootlegging of menthol cigarettes would increase exponentially. Resources would have to be tasked to stop the illicit trade, further straining federal and state budgets. Outside of fiscal effects, the health effects of contraband and bootleg cigarettes are unknown. (Fitch Ratings - review of events that could adversely affect the U.S. tobacco industry..)

Clearly, Lorillard, Inc. (Lorillard) is the most dependent upon menthol cigarette sales and would be the most hurt by any type of menthol ban. 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%. Graph - Newport leads menthol segment.. Bar Chart - Premium Market Share..

From our own work with menthol and tobacco - here's a table that shows that mentholated cigarettes such as Newport can mask the early warning signs of respiratory disease the same as mentholated cold products..



1 comments:

  Kaitlyn

December 18, 2009 at 9:21 AM

Despite assertions from some advocacy groups, the current weight of scientific evidence does not support the conclusion that menthol cigarettes confer a greater health risk than non-menthol cigarettes. As current data makes clear, adult smoking rates continue to decline, and youth rates are at historic lows. Claims that menthol perpetuates smoking are not supported by the facts.

According to the 2009 Monitoring the Future study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted by the University of Michigan, teen smoking rates are “at the lowest point in the survey's history on all measures,” and those rates (based on 30 day use) have dropped consistently and dramatically over the last decade.

In its passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, Congress saw fit to mandate that the FDA rigorously review the valid science concerning menthol cigarettes. To do so, they set in motion a detailed process to evaluate the health effects of menthol and non-menthol cigarettes – a review which will be conducted in 2010 by a Scientific Advisory Committee that the agency is putting together right now. This committee – comprised of representatives from the scientific and medical community, particularly those in the area of tobacco research, as well as tobacco growers and representatives from the tobacco manufacturing industry – will have an important job in front of them. It is important to respect the integrity of this process and the science that underlies it.

Lorillard looks forward to the committee’s review of menthol, and is confident that the process will provide a fair hearing of all sides of an issue that has scientific foundation.

Posted on behalf of Lorillard Tobacco Company