FDA CTP Scientific Advisory Committee to meet - menthol..

July 14, 2010 -

July 11, 2010 - The second meeting of the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) Scientific Advisory Committee is scheduled for July 15-16, 2010 to discuss menthol and dissolvable tobacco products. We've already provided our comments on dissolvable tobacco products.

The advisory committee is expected to hold one or two more full committee meetings before it issues a final recommendation to the FDA in March 2011. The FDA isn't required to follow the recommendations of its panels.

The FDA panel will hear testimony on menthol's health risks, and whether it masks the taste of cigarettes and makes them more addictive. The panel will also examine the marketing of menthol cigarettes and which populations are most likely to smoke them, amid evidence that the products are widely used by women and African Americans.

Tobacco-industry representatives have insisted that menthol cigarettes pose no additional risks. "The science is clear and compelling that there is no differing health risk between menthol and non-menthol products," Bill True, a Lorillard Inc. (LO) senior vice president, said in a statement. Lorillard manufactures Newport and Kent cigarettes.

Lorillard said in a 34-page brief submitted to the advisory panel June 29. “The best available science does not support an assertion that menthol in cigarettes impacts public health,” the company said. Lorillard has also launched a new website, "Understanding Menthol," that focuses on the scientific evidence surrounding the public health impact of menthol in cigarettes.

Public-health advocates, however, argue that menthol could have an impact on initiation and cessation of smoking. "If menthol causes more people to start or makes it harder for people to quit, then that causes harm," said Danny McGoldrick, vice president of research for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Does menthol make cigarettes easier to smoke, luring young people into a deadly addiction? And does menthol make it harder for smokers to quit? If the answer to either question is yes, then menthol negatively impacts the public health and should be prohibited.

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Terry F. Pechacek, associate director for science in the Office on Smoking and Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “We are continuing to find that Marlboro, Newport and Camel brands, among the most heavily advertised brands, continue to be overwhelmingly the preferred brands of cigarettes smoked by middle school and high-school students.”

The science is clear: Newer and younger smokers smoke menthols at much higher rates than established smokers. (Menthol Cigarettes Are Harmful, Cheryl Healton, Dr. PH., The Wall Street Journal, 4/4/2010.)

FDA commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg: “These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers.”

Studies have shown that menthol make it harder for smokers to quit. In one study researchers measured the association between exposure to menthol cigarettes and quitting; coronary calcification, or a build-up of calcium in the arteries leading to the heart that is a sign of coronary artery disease; and change in pulmonary (lung) function over a 10-year period. Those who smoked menthol cigarettes in 1985 were more likely to still be smoking at follow-up examinations-in 2000, for example, 69 percent were still smokers vs. 54 percent of non-menthol smokers. (Menthol Cigarettes Harder to Give Up, ConsumerAffairs.com, 9/25/2006)

In another study researchers examined the effects of menthol on quit rates among a diverse group of nearly 1,700 smokers attending a Tobacco Dependence Clinic at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s (UMDNJ) School of Public Health.
Lower quit rates among African American and Latino menthol cigarette smokers were found. Jonathan Foulds, director of the Tobacco Dependence Program, added “These results build on growing evidence suggesting that menthol is not a neutral flavoring in cigarettes. It masks the harshness of the nicotine and toxins, affects the way the cigarette is smoked and makes it more deadly and addictive.”

According to Foulds, “More than 80 percent of the African American smokers attending our clinic smoke menthols, and they have half the quit rate of African Americans who smoke non-menthol cigarettes." (Harder to Quit Menthol Cigarettes by Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor, PsychCentral.com, 1/12/2009)

The difficult task is how can removal of menthol cigarettes be accomplished. Menthol cigarettes - if banned, how can this be accomplished??

A recent Wall Street Journal article stated that menthol cigarettes account for almost a third of the nation’s $70 billion cigarette sales. (Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2010. Effect of Menthol on Smoking Unclear by JARED A. FAVOLE.)

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With Lorillard. Newport, the best selling menthol cigarette in the U.S, 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%. (Lorillard - essentially a one-product company - Newport cigarettes..)

More information on menthol cigarettes..

References: Lorillard Urges FDA to Review Testimony on Menthol, reporter Chris Burritt (cburritt@bloomberg.net) editor responsible for story Jennifer Sondag, Bloomberg Business Week, 7/14/2010; Phillip Morris: Menthol Cigarettes Don't Contribute To Risks by Shayndi Raice, Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES, 7/14/2010.

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Bill True, a Lorillard Inc. (LO) senior vice president, said in a statement;
FDA - committee to meet to discuss menthol cigarettes..;
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July 15, 2010 at 3:37 AM