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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking deeper at the tobacco levels in the flavoured tobacco products closely. These menthol or fruit flavoured cigarettes are more appealing to young people who take up smoking, they find. These have also escaped the regulations regarding tobacco usage for years now.
The FDA released a statement yesterday (20th March 2018) calling for more information about flavored cigars and electronic cigarettes. Both of these have no restrictions in terms of flavours. The 2009 law permitted by the Congress brought tobacco under FDA regulation. In this menthol cigarettes were the only ones that were spared. FDA since then has been trying to regulate the ingredients and minimize harm but has always been facing a wall from the industry.
In their statement the FDA says that these flavoured preparations tend to appeal to young smokers. Over half of the underage smokers, the report says, are smoking menthols. Menthols are favoured by only 36 percent of the adult smokers. This comes from a large government survey. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement, “The thought of any child starting down a path of a lifelong addiction to tobacco, which could ultimately lead to their death, is unacceptable. We need to take every effort to prevent kids from getting hooked on nicotine… For years we have recognized that flavors in these products appeal to kids and promote youth initiation.”
It was in 2011 that a panel of experts had recommended FDA to ban the mentholated cigarettes because it raises the risk of young people getting hooked to cigarettes. It also makes these smokers resistant to quitting. Cigarette manufacturers at the time sued the FDA and stopped this move. They claimed that several of the panelists had conflicts of interest and thus their recommendation could not be accepted by the agency. The agency won the argument but the ban never happened. Another report on the harm of menthols came forth in the 2013 with no ban from the FDA.
Gottlieb said that there are information available on how mentholated e cigarettes are helping smokers quit. And the agency would “consider all sides and take into account, among other things, the risks and benefits to the population as a whole,” before taking any steps. Last week the FDA called for public comment on reduction of nicotine content in cigarettes. In this new statement they are asking for public opinion and comments on how these flavours can make cigarettes, and other tobacco products more addictive and this more dangerous especially to the youth. “FDA may consider restrictions on the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco products,” the notice read. The FDA comment period will be open for the next 90 days for public comment.
Tobacco kills millions due to the ailments associated with it. This includes heart disease and cancer that kills around half a million Americans a year.