FDA Decision to Seek Additional Evidence on Menthol Wastes Needless Time While Lives Remain at Risk
The Scientific Record Shows That Taking Menthol Off The Market Would Benefit Public Health So Why Wait?
WASHINGTON, June 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following is a statement from Legacy President and CEO, Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH:
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement today that it believes more study is necessary before making a decision as to whether to pursue a menthol ban is repetitive and an unfortunate delay. The evidence is in – from its own well qualified, independent and respected Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee – that a ban on menthol would benefit the public health. Seeking additional peer review now is a redundant measure. There has also been ample opportunity for public input at this stage of the process. We urge the FDA to move quickly to commence the formal rulemaking process, which includes robust opportunities for public comment, to remove menthol from the marketplace in order to benefit the public health.
Strong scientific evidence links menthol cigarettes to increased youth smoking initiation and lower rates of adult cessation, particularly among African-Americans who smoke menthols at highly disproportionate rates. A report released just last month confirms that many menthol smokers would see a menthol ban as an opportunity to quit.
Though other candy flavored cigarettes have already been banned, menthols remain on the market. For decades, the tobacco industry has carefully manipulated menthol content in cigarettes to lure new, young smokers, and current research shows that menthol use is on the rise among young people. The evidence shows that if menthol cigarettes are taken off the market, fewer youth will be enticed to take up this deadly addiction.
Stopping the sale of menthol cigarettes would also address the disproportionate burden that African Americans suffer from smoking menthol cigarettes. For years, the tobacco industry has targeted this community with menthols. Consequently, about 80 percent of African-American smokers use menthol brands.
Research shows that a menthol ban could prevent up to 600,000 smoking-related premature deaths by 2050, a third of those from the African American community. Additional research is unnecessary. The FDA should act now to save lives.