March 14, 2011 The use of menthol cigarettes is rising among adolescents and is "very high" among minority youth, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel said in partial draft report released Monday, March 13th. The most recent draft chapter, which looks at patterns of menthol-cigarette smoking, said more than 80% of African-American adolescent smokers and more than half of Hispanic smokers ages 12 to 17 use menthol cigarettes. "Use of menthol cigarettes if rising among adolescents, driven by a significant increase in the number of white youth ages 12 to 17 who are smoking menthol cigarettes," the draft chapter said. Overall smoking among teenagers has declined in the last decade. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009, 19.5% of students in grades nine through 12 reported smoking in the past month compared to 34.8% in 1999. About 21% of U.S. adults smoke.
CHAPTER 4: DRAFT - PATTERNS OF MENTHOL CIGARETTE SMOKING
The Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) is scheduled to meet later this week to discuss menthol cigarettes. The panel is charged with writing a report to the FDA about the public health impact of menthol and could make a recommendation about whether menthol flavoring should be banned.
The report is due next week and the FDA has released some draft chapters of the report, but what's been released so far hasn't contained any recommendations about menthol. The report could call for an outright ban on menthol cigarettes or tighter restrictions of some kind. The panel's chairman Jonathan Samet, a professor at the University of Southern California who has studied smoking- related health issues, said "we intend to provide some sort of overall conclusions and recommendations," suggesting the panel won't simply call for more study of the issue.
Menthol cigarettes account for about 30% of total cigarette sales in the U.S. The issue is of major importance to Lorillard Inc. (LO) the maker of the leading menthol brand, Newport. The product accounts for roughly 90% of the company's sales. Altria Group Inc. (MO) and Reynolds American Inc. (RIA) also market menthol cigarettes but aren't as reliant on them for overall sales.
The FDA was given the authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009. As part of the tobacco law, all tobacco flavorings except for menthol were banned on concerns the flavors entice children and adolescents to start smoking. The law called for an FDA advisory panel to report on the public health effects of menthol in cigarettes. The FDA doesn't have a required deadline or timeline to act on the panel's recommendations.
One question the FDA tobacco panel is weighing is whether menthol masks the harshness of tobacco and makes it easier to smoke cigarettes and harder to quit.
Menthol Cigarettes - alter the menthol concentration so cigarettes will not be so appealing to young smokers..
U.S. FDA for our children must limit the availability of menthol cigarettes..
The tobacco industry has said there's no evidence that menthol in cigarettes makes it more likely people will start smoking compared to regular cigarettes and that menthol cigarettes carry the same risks as regular cigarettes.
Another draft chapter of the menthol report, previously released, concluded that there's "insufficient" evidence to conclude that smokers of menthol cigarettes have a different risk of tobacco-related disease compared to those who smoke non-menthol cigarettes. FDA TPSAC - Menthol Draft Report - two draft chapters released..)
Menthols account for nearly one-third of the $83 billion in annual U.S. cigarette sales, according Euromonitor International data. Lorillard has filed a lawsuit to prevent the FDA from considering the panel's report in making any final decision on the cigarettes. (More on R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co./Lorillard Tobacco Co. sued to block FDA TPSAC menthol recommendations..)
References: UPDATE: FDA Panel: Menthol Cigarette Use Rising Among Teenagers by Jennifer Corbett Dooren firstname.lastname@example.org) Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
3/14/2011; U.S. advisers say teens' menthol cigarette use rises, Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Susan Heavey, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Dave Zimmerman, Reuters, 3/14/2011.