Menthol cigarettes have been the subject of one rumor after another for years. Due to the popularity of the flavor among African-American men, there was a rumor that Kool menthols were owned by the KKK and intended to curb the black population. That rumor had no more evidence to back it than the fact that the manufacturer chose to use date letter “K” in the word “cool”. But rumor-mongers insist that the amount of menthol in the cigarettes has been increased over the years in order to kill more blacks.
Then came the notion that menthol cigarettes contained very tiny fiberglas particles. The idea is that menthols micro-cut your throat to transmit that minty sensation.
And finally, menthol cigarettes make you impotent.
All of these rumors have been disproven, but you will still hear them, especially in jailhouses, where Kool Mild cigarette packs fetch a premium among guys who weave crafts out of packs.
But, as Sean Patterson reported earlier, now comes the FDA with a study that shows that menthols actually do cause more cigarette deaths, not because of anything in the cigarette that is inherently more deadly than any other cancer stick, but because the flavored cigarette makes it easier to start and to continue smoking in the first place.
Sean reported that the FDA announced that it is seeking feedback and proposals on regulating menthol in cigarettes. That move is the first step in killing menthol. But it is the FDA reasoning behind the move that is worth considering:
In the United States, about 30 percent of all adult smokers and more than 40 percent of all youth smokers report smoking menthol cigarettes.Menthol cigarettes may have an impact on initiation rates and progression to regular use that differ from non menthol cigarettes. Since even a small increase in the rate of initiation of cigarette smoking may have a large impact on public health, assessing this possible impact is important.[An FDA survey found that] menthol use was more common among newer, younger smokers. Younger adolescents were more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes as compared to older adolescents, with both age groups increasing in menthol cigarette use from 2000 to 2002.
While this study is in no way a binding measure, the FDA is opening the matter up for discussion, often a preamble to moves toward restrictions.