U.S. - flavored cigarettes illegal - now how about all tobacco products...

October 11, 2009 - Health care officials have long complained that flavored cigarettes lure young people into a lifetime of nicotine addiction. Twenty-two-year-old Boston College student Michael Bell is not the only young adult who began his smoking habit with clove cigarettes. "Cloves are totally a gateway cigarette, that's what I used to smoke in high school," said Bell, who now smokes regular cigarettes."

Two weeks ago, the FDA banned clove and all fruit-flavored cigarettes as part of a national effort to reduce teen smoking in the U.S. "These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers," Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of food and drugs, said when announcing the ban.

It was the first major FDA action against tobacco manufacturers since being granted the right to regulate cigarettes under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed by President Obama in June.

The ban affects not just flavored tobacco, but flavored filters and cigarette rolling papers that contain "…strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon, pineapple, vanilla, coconut, licorice, cocoa, chocolate, cherry, or coffee,"according to a statement released by the FDA.

Big tobacco really did not mind taking these flavored cigarettes of the market. These cigarettes were not even one percent of the market. Menthol, the most popular flavored cigarette and the one preferred by the majority of black smokers, was allowed to stay on the market. The three biggest U.S. tobacco companies say they do not produce any flavored cigarettes other than menthol varieties. (For our children ban all flavored tobacco products..)

Richard Hurt, a professor of medicine and director of the Nicotine Dependence Center at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota: "In many respects, clove cigarettes are more dangerous." Unlike fruit-flavored cigarettes, cloves release a sweet aroma that contains eugenol, which is a topical anesthetic, scientists say. Many dentists use eugenol to numb part of a patient's mouth. When smoking a clove flavored cigarette, the eugenol makes the upper airways of a smoker's lungs numb, allowing the smoker to inhale very dense cigarette smoke into the deepest part of their lungs. This is the characteristic that makes cloves appealing to new smokers. But, the anesthetic in cloves that allows for deep inhales is potentially more harmful as well. "Most officials agree that when young people smoke cloves, they can get hooked faster because of the anesthetic, eugenol, in the cloves," Hurt said.

For cigarettes - the good doctor should realize that the major cuplrit is menthol. Clove cigarettes constitute less than 1% of cigarettes sold in the U.S. The U.S. market for clove cigarettes is about $140 million annually, with about 1.25 million clove smokers. Cloves have been imported to the U.S. since the 1960s and are mostly smoked by people younger than 30. (U.S. - Importer tries to get around clove cigarettes ban..)

"Getting rid of the flavor additives is a good thing; the only elephant in the room is menthol," said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and director of the University of California San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. "It's pretty outrageous to leave menthol off the list," Glantz added. "Menthol is very important to the tobacco industry; evidenced by the fact that Phillip Morris recently introduced a new menthol Marlboro." The FDA, however, is reportedly looking into ways to expand the ban to include menthol.

Cigarette retailer lobbying groups say the ban is unfair. They claim that selling any kind of cigarettes to minors -- flavored or regular -- is already illegal in most states, making the outright ban of flavored cigarettes unreasonable. "It is not our goal to attract underage youth to our stores," Mary Szarmach, a tobacco retailer and also the vice president of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, told an FDA listening session before the ban was announced. "Rather, our customer base consists of adults who enjoy buying and consuming tobacco products."

Kretek International Inc., the largest importer of clove cigarettes in the U.S., filed suit against the FDA. The company claims that the regulator is causing it to lose money.

Congratulations to our Canadian friends for the passage of the bill to ban flavored tobacco products..

Reference: Clove-Flavored Cigarettes More Dangerous?
Tobacco Experts Welcome FDA Ban on Flavored Cigarettes, Especially Cloves

by SARAH SARGENTI, abcnews.com, 10/10/2009.