February 5, 2011 - Each day in the United States, approximately 3,900 persons aged 12--17 years smoke their first cigarette, and an estimated 1,000 adolescents become daily cigarette smokers. The vast majority of persons who begin smoking during adolescence are addicted to nicotine by age 20. (MMWR - Cigarette Smoking --- United States, 1965--2008..)
A national study finds that smokers who started recently are more likely than longer-term smokers to use menthol cigarettes. Menthol is an additive used in cigarettes that masks the harshness of cigarette smoke by giving the smoker the sensation of coolness in the mouth, pharynx, and lungs. By masking the harshness, menthol can make it easier for young people to start smoking. (Menthol Cigarettes - smokers who started recently more likely to smoke menthols..)
Menthol cigarettes are preferred by about 50 percent of teenager smokers and 80 percent of African-American smokers. These are the populations that may find the menthol cigarette habit hard to kick. SOURCES: Mendiondo MS et al. Addiction 2010 Dec; 105 Suppl 1:124-40, Penn State College of Medicine news release. (Menthol Cigarette Habit Harder to Kick, Submitted by Deborah Mitchell, EMAX Health, 12/21/2010)
Many more cigarettes are sold in the U.S. compared to cigars and smokeless tobacco. U.S. consumers spent an estimated $90 billion in 2006 on tobacco products.
* Approximately $83.6 billion was spent on cigarettes.
* Approximately $3.2 billion was spent on cigars.
* Approximately $2.6 billion was spent on smokeless tobacco (e.g., chewing tobacco and snuff). (Economic Facts About U.S. Tobacco Production and Use, CDC Smoking and Tobacco Use..
On June 22, 2009 President Barack Obama signed into law an anti-smoking bill (Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act) that gives the FDA greater power to regulate tobacco. The president called this law the "Kids tobacco regulation bill to protect our kids."
Health care officials have longed complained that flavored cigarettes lure young people into a lifetime of nicotine addiction. So one of the first orders of business the FDA announced was a ban on cigarettes with flavors characterizing fruit, candy, or clove. Unfortunately, the tobacco industry really did not mind taking these flavored cigarettes off the market since these cigarettes were not even one percent of the market. (FDA - first steps in the role of tobacco regulation..)
Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., 21st Commissioner of Food and Drugs administration (FDA): The flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers. "Flavored cigarettes attract and allure kids into lifetime addiction," said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H. "FDA's ban on these cigarettes will break that cycle for the more than 3,600 young people who start smoking daily." Dr. Lawrence Deyton, Director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA: Children are three times us likely as adults to smoke a flavored cigarettes. FDA - first steps in the role of tobacco regulation.. did not include menthol flavored cigarettes..
If the goal of the effort by the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products is to reduce the number of kids beginning to use tobacco products then they must reduce the availability of menthol cigarettes.
A few menthol related news briefs:
Lorillard Commissioned Study.. cigarette black market: Canada/New York State..;
Menthol cigarettes - easier to tolerate for the first time smoker - our kids..;
Series of papers on Mentholated Cigarettes - journal of Addiction..;
More on the defense of menthol - the Tobacco Industry..;
Menthol cigarettes - if banned, how can this be accomplished??;
For our children ban all flavored tobacco products...