Public health advocates are urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban menthol as an ingredient in cigarettes and other tobacco products, according to news sources.
They claim that menthol, which reportedly opens the airways while smoking and allows the smoker to breathe more deeply, makes cigarettes more appealing to those who are new to the smoking scene. Anti-tobacco advocates claim menthol product increase the amount of African-American smokers and can make it difficult for people to quit.
In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into effect, which gives the FDA the right to regulate marketing and distribution of products manufactured by tobacco companies. The law targeted teen smoking by preventing fruit and candy flavorings in cigarettes, and many public health advocates were disappointed that the ban did not include menthol.
National polls indicate that of smokers ages 12 through 17, forty-four percent smoke menthols, and eighty percent of African-American smokers select menthols.
The tobacco industry responded with a report acknowledging the hazardous effects of cigarettes, but also maintains that menthol cigarettes are no more harmful than those without menthol.
As a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, I hope that the FDA will take a stand against this important public health issue. In my experience as a product liability lawyer, I’ve seen the effects tobacco use can have not only on the individual who uses it, but also on those around that person. Smoking and smoke exposure kills about 443,000 people in the United States per year. I hope the ban of menthol can help to lower that number.