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US FDA proposes to ban menthol cigarettes

Popular among first-time smokers, the FDA has proposed to ban menthol cigarettes which might pose a greater risk of addiction and may also be more harmful to health than the regular ones.

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While it is widely known that cigarettes are harmful to the health, it turns out, menthol cigarettes may just pose a greater health risk and are harder to quit than the regular ones. Recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came up with a proposal to impose a ban on menthol cigarettes nationwide.

Confirming the ill-effects of menthol cigarettes on people’s health, back in 2013, the FDA had said that “the use of the cigarettes, which are flavored with the compound menthol, was likely associated with increased smoking initiation by youth and young adults, possibly because menthol helps reduce the throat irritation caused by cigarette smoke”, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

While the tobacco industry rejected the FDA findings, the proposal to ban menthol cigarettes “has been long-awaited by public health advocates, who have been especially concerned about the high percentage of African-Americans who have become addicted to menthol cigarettes”, the New York Times reported.

“Given the large number of menthol cigarette users (nearly 27% of current smokers, with Black/African American smokers being about 3 times more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes as compared to white smokers) there is less information on the health of effects of menthol cigarettes as compared to non-menthol cigarettes than might be expected. Indeed, although there are many research articles that point to menthol as a possible contributing factor to several health effects of smoking, the majority did not investigate menthol as an independent factor and instead focused on racial/ethnic disparities in use,” said a paper published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information back in 2011,

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While it might take some time before the restriction comes into effect, given it has to go through regulatory processes of the FDA, none of the major tobacco companies commented on this proposed ban yet.

First published on: 10-11-2018 at 18:16 IST
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