An advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration has released its report on menthol cigarettes, a report that some expected would lead to a ban on menthol cigarettes.
The FDA panel did not recommend a ban, but they did call for further studies into the issue. With that, the FDA may resort to more modest action, such as imposing marketing restrictions that will limit access to menthol cigarettes by young people, instead of the full-blown ban that was implemented on flavored cigarettes.
The report, however, discussed the “special dangers” that menthol cigarettes may bring. It concluded that “removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States,” but did not take the next step: recommend that these should actually be taken off the market.
This means that the decision to ban – or not to ban – is left solely to the discretion of the FDA.
There is evidence that menthol cigarettes contribute significantly to the increase in smoking rates among young adolescents. Smoking, according to research, is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. it leads to 443,000 deaths per year, and medical care expenses of $100 billion. It also costs $100 billion a year in lost productivity.