The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products has announced it will review research on the impact of the use of menthol in cigarettes on the public health. The independent review will evaluate the impact of the cigarettes overall, as well as on children, African Americans, Hispanics, and other racial/ethnic minorities.
According to the Associated Press, menthol cigarettes are one of the few growth areas in the generally declining cigarette business. The FDA announced it will gather studies about menthol cigarettes and submit them to an external peer review panel in July. According to the AP, the process should be completed by the fall.
In March, an expert panel advising the FDA recommended in a draft report that menthol cigarettes be outlawed to protect Americans’ health. The advisory panel – made up of scientists, physicians, and public health experts — found that putting menthol in cigarettes did not increase the individual risk of smoking-related health problems, such as strokes and lung cancer.
In its draft report, the panel found that menthol cigarettes increased “the likelihood of addiction and the degree of addiction in youth smokers,” and menthol in cigarettes made it harder for African-American smokers to quit. Additionally, menthol cigarettes could make groups more likely to experiment with smoking and become regular smokers.
A new study found the manufacturer of Newport menthol cigarettes targeted its ads to California high school neighborhoods with a high percentage of African-American students. The study found school neighborhoods were more likely to have lower prices and more ads for Newport cigarettes as the proportion of African-American students increased.