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Menthol cigarettes marketed in 'predatory' pattern, Stanford study shows
Date:6/24/2011

STANFORD, Calif. - Tobacco companies increased the advertising and lowered the sale price of menthol cigarettes in stores near California high schools with larger populations of African-American students, according to a new study from the Stanford School of Medicine.

Although cigarette makers have denied using race or ethnicity to target customers, the lead researcher for the study said the data shows a "predatory" marketing pattern geared to luring young African Americans into becoming smokers.

"The tobacco companies went out of their way to argue to the Food & Drug Administration that they don't use racial targeting," said Lisa Henriksen, PhD, senior research scientist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. "This evidence is not consistent with those claims."

Henriksen is the first author of this study, which will be published online June 24 in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

The study comes at a time when the FDA is gathering information on whether to ban menthol as a flavoring agent in cigarettes. A federal law passed in 2008 banned 13 candy flavorings in cigarettes but allowed for the continued use of menthol. Menthol makes the smoke from tobacco smoother and less harsh; even non- menthol cigarettes often have low levels of the substance.

A draft report by the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, which the FDA asked to investigate the harms from the use and marketing of menthol cigarettes, found that the use of menthol cigarettes is highest among minorities, teenagers and low-income populations. Advertisements often tout the "freshness" of menthol cigarettes, and the report said many smokers mistakenly believe that the addition of menthol makes cigarettes less of a health risk.

The committee's report says that "removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States," but the FDA doesn't have to follow the group's recommendation. The co
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Contact: Susan Ipaktchian
susani@stanford.edu
650-725-5375
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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