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FDA Panel: Ban on Menthol Cigarettes Would Boost Health
Date:3/19/2011

ne for FDA to act on the issue of menthol in cigarettes, we recognize the strong interest in this issue among all stakeholders and will continue to communicate the steps the FDA is taking as it determines what future regulatory actions, if any, are warranted." The first "progress report" on any proposed regulations is due within 90 days, he added.

Many anti-smoking organizations have long hoped that the FDA will eventually bar menthols from the marketplace.

"Menthols should be banned, and such a decision would be, in the words of the statute, 'appropriate for the protection of the public health,'" said Ellen Vargyas, general counsel for the American Legacy Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization that was founded in 1999 with funding from the landmark Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco industry and state governments.

Friday's decision comes on the heels of a statement issued Thursday by the same panel that found that marketing messages for menthol cigarettes disproportionately target youths and blacks and are crafted to imply that menthols are safer than other cigarettes, although they are not.

"Analyses of tobacco industry internal documents and marketing messages the industry produced provide corroborating evidence of explicit and unwarranted claims that smoking menthol cigarettes would improve smokers' health," the draft report stated. "Over time, marketing messages increasingly relied on sensory descriptors and imagery to imply that menthol cigarettes are safer than non-menthol cigarettes."

The draft report also says that menthol marketing has targeted youth, women and blacks, and that "consistent with these targeted marketing efforts, menthol cigarettes are disproportionately smoked by African-American smokers."

According to a study cited in the FDA's draft report, nearly 81 percent of black middle schoolers who smoke and about 85 percent of black high school smokers regularly smoke menthol ci
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