FDA Should ‘Quickly’ Determine the Effects of Menthol-Flavored Cigarettes, New York Times Editorial States
"There is ample reason to suspect that menthol may be harmful to many smokers and disproportionately harmful to black Americans," to whom "[m]entholated cigarettes have been marketed aggressively," a New York Times editorial states. More than 70% of black smokers prefer menthol brands, compared with 25% to 30% of whites, according to the Times. "Some experts worry that menthol cigarettes may be one reason why blacks suffer disproportionately from some tobacco-related diseases," although recent studies have "found no significant difference in the risk of disease for smokers who use mentholated cigarettes and those who" do not, the editorial states.
The House last month passed legislation that would allow FDA to regulate tobacco products (New York Times, 8/14). The measure would ban flavored additives, while allowing -- but not requiring -- FDA to ban menthol flavoring (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 8/4). According to the editorial, the "racial element makes the issue especially combustible."
The Times states, "The Senate should follow the House's lead and give the FDA regulatory control over tobacco," and then the agency should "once and for all" determine menthol's health effects "and what should be done to regulate or ban it." According to the editorial, "With millions of Americans currently smoking menthol cigarettes, the question needs to be answered quickly" (New York Times, 8/14).