Tag Archives: menthol

African-American doctors urge banning menthol cigarettes

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For some reason, I’m not sure why, menthol cigarettes are favoured by black smokers (interestingly, my parents were big menthol smokers for years and they were decidedly not black)… and Big Tobacco has long marketed menthols to black smokers.

In fact, 75 percent of the smokers of the second biggest cigarette brand — Newport cigarettes — are black. Newports are mentholated. Man, here’s a shocking stat — 83 percent of older black smokers prefer mentholated brands, while 72 percent of young black smokers also prefer menthol cigs.

Newport trails only Marlboro as the most popular brand in the U.S. .. mostly because so many blacks smoke them. Newport was also the No. 1 brand for Lorillard, which is now part of RJ Reynolds.

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Newport, a menthol cigarette, is the No. 1 brand among African-American smokers.

Interestingly, several years ago, the Food and Drug Administration banned candy-flavoured cigarettes, such as cherry, raspberry, etc., because these cigarettes were obviously being marketed to kids. However, the FDA did nothing about menthol cigarettes, which have a candhy-like minty flavour. Menthol cigarettes were grandfathered in.

A group called the African-American Tobacco Control Leadership Council last week called on Barack Obama to ban menthol cigarettes (not really sure if Obama could actually do this by Executive action).

One of the big problems with menthol is that it makes cigarette smoke less harsh and easier to ingest, thus making cigarette smoke that much more dangerous for the smoker.

Yeah, I don’t get the logic of banning candy cigarettes, but not a minty cigarette. It just shows that there is a too-cozy relationship at times between the FDA and Big Tobacco.

FDA panel suggests banning menthol

An advisory panel at the Food and Drug Administration gave its suggestion last week to the agency that menthol in cigarettes should be banned.

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The FDA has been wrangling with the menthol issue for over a year. About a year ago, after being given regulatory control over tobacco products, the FDA immediately banned candy flavouring for tobacco, because it was believed this made tobacco more appealing to teens.

Menthol is a bit tougher nut to crack, because menthol cigarettes and menthol chew have been around for decades and represent roughly 30 percent of the tobacco market. Hell, it was all my dad smoked. It’s a flavouring, just like orange or strawberry, but it’s also a big part of the cigarette market and in fact one relatively large tobacco company — Lollilard — gets most of its profits from menthol cigarettes (Newport is a Lollilard brand). For some reason, a much higher percentage of blacks smoke menthols than whites, and a lot of menthol cigarette advertising is directed at black smokers. If menthol is banned, I could see it putting Lollilard out of business. They the third biggest company of the Big Three — Altria (Phillip Morris), RJ Reynolds being No.1 and No. 2 respectively.

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Well, this panel came out and said it should be banned, because menthol, like candy-flavourings, has the effect of making cigarettes more appealing to teens and kids. Menthol itself does not increase the risk of lung cancer or other diseases caused by smoking. It just makes cigarettes more enticing to kids.

The FDA is supposed to make a final decision later this year.