FDA Considers Menthol Cigarette Regulation


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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced that it is seeking feedback and proposals on regulating menthol in cigarettes. The agency stated that it is considering several regulatory options, including establishing product standards for menthol content in cigarettes. After 60 days, the agency will consider the feedback to determine what, if any, regulatory action should be taken.

“Menthol cigarettes raise critical public health questions,” said Dr. Margaret Hamburg, FDA commissioner. “The FDA is committed to a science-based approach that addresses the public health issues raised by menthol cigarettes, and public input will help us make more informed decisions about how best to tackle this important issue moving forward.”

The FDA's Preliminary Scientific Evaluation of the Possible Public Health Effects of Menthol Versus Nonmenthol Cigarettes determined that menthol cigarettes are associated with "greater addiction" and "increased smoking initiation by youth and young adults." The review states that menthol cigarette smokers are less likely to quit smoking and show "greater signs of nicotine dependence."

The FDA has also announced that it will support three new studies relating to menthol cigarettes. One study will look at how genetic taste perception differences could affect menthol cigarette use by different racial and ethnic groups. Another will compare the toxins and carcinogens found in menthol and nonmenthol cigarettes. The third will study the effects of menthol on tobacco addiction and tobacco smoke toxicants.

(Image courtesy zen Sutherland under Creative Commons license)