Editor’s Note: The following article is representative of the tobacco stakeholder community’s failure to recognize the adverse health effects of counterfeit cigarettes; an event which which will occur with mathematical certainty and one which has never been challenged by any federal agency.
Why then do TPSAC and a number of academic researchers and analysts refuse to study the adverse health effects of counterfeit cigarettes as dcoumented in several CRE studies? One can only speculate but it appears that a number of researchers are more interested in preserving their financial grants than they are in telling their paymasters the straight facts.
FDA has yet to opine on the matter and hopefully it will not ignore its responsibility to address the totality of health concerns associated with a menthol ban.
In addition, any final action on this matter will be subject to the provisions of the Data[Information] Quality Act; a statute administered in part by OIRA.
Menthol Cigarettes Ban
If you are among the vapers who love the minty fresh flavor, you might have to quit it soon. In 2010, not long after the FDA obtained the governmental authority to regulate tobacco, it imposed a ban on the ‘flavored’ cigarettes, except for menthol; so that the children would not get addicted to cigarettes. However, this seemed to be more like a publicity stunt because the top flavored cigarette manufacturers such as Kauai Kolada and Twista Lime shared less than 1% of the cigarette market. However, in 2011, the FDA decided for something bolder: Banning menthol cigarettes! By doing so, the government wishes to debar 30% of the existing cigarette market. Why? Let’s check that out!
Why Menthol Cigarettes Ban?
According to the FDA panel, a veto on menthol smoking shall be in the favor of public health. The justification for the ban on flavored tobacco smoking is that it is relatively more tantalizing to youngsters due to which they are more likely to develop the habit of smoking. Currently, menthols have a 30% share in annual cigarette sales in the United States, of which Newport is considered the leading brand.
The most prominent public health experts as well as campaigners are advocating the FDA to prohibit menthol cigarettes in the market of the United States. Among these are the American Public Health Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the tobacco-rejection campaign organization legacy. They are doing so because of the various studies published in the American Journal of Public Health. According to one of them, running a menthol cigarettes ban in the country would prevent over 600,000 premature deaths of the Americans by 2050, the figure whose one-third folks are African Americans. A survey has revealed that 4 out of every 5 African American smokers dwell on menthol cigarettes.
Another survey reported that this ban would receive the support of over 50% of the American population, which would also include the presence of 3/4th of African Americans. One more study found that people who use menthol cigarettes later find it more difficult to quit than those who use non-menthol cigarettes. These studies follow a fresh report from the National Cancer Institute according to which 39% of menthol smokers including 50% of all African American menthol smokers wanted to quit smoking rather than choosing another kind of cigarette, if FDA endorses the menthol cigarettes ban.
In March 2011, the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) of FDA agreed that prohibiting menthol smoking would largely benefit public health. Today, menthol cigarettes are the only flavored ones that are allowed in the US.
Even the FDA panel comprising of scientists, public health experts, and physicians found that menthol cigarette advertising mostly targeted the youth, Hispanics, and African Americans for smoking, although the same did not apply to Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans, or women. It agreed that the tobacco companies have advertised menthol smoking heavily in media to target black communities mainly. However, the African Americans do not smoke that frequently or heavily like the whites. But, because of more inclination towards menthol smoking, they are more likely to become the victims of tobacco-related diseases.
Do Americans Support the Ban?
Yes! According to a study conducted by more than two centers dealing in public health, 56.1% of adults are in the favor of menthol cigarettes ban. In the sampling, almost 68% of African Americans responded positively on the ban of menthol cigarettes, along with over 53% whites. In this survey, more than 1500 respondents along with an additional of 300 African-Americans were questioned for their views toward the cigarettes.
Not only men, but even women are in support of this ban. Young adults between the age group of 18 and 24, women, and survey respondents who were not that highly educated were in the favor of this ban. Putting it statistically, 71.2% of respondents who had not even completed their high school education, 64.7% of women, and 50.3% of young adults responded positively in this campaign.
Many other studies were conducted in this regard. According to one of them, most people are of the opinion that a menthol cigarette is just another ploy to retain that hard-to-deal dependency on tobacco. The authors of these studies revealed that menthol cigarettes being heavily marketed to small communities such as African-Americans work by numbing the throat so that it becomes easier to inhale deeply. As a result, such an approach promotes smoking at a very early age, which is a risk factor for kids and teens who easily succumb to flavored smoking.
According to TPSAC, around 81% black youngsters pursuing their middle school education are smokers. This is an alarming fact that certainly calls for the menthol cigarettes ban!
Has the Decision Being Taken?
For the time being, no! The battle is still going on and FDA is yet to give its final decision. It has not put an outright ban on menthol cigarettes, but is working towards it. Its announcement in 2011 that more study is required has triggered an unfortunate delay.