A crucial health issue that has not been addressed by the TPSAC is how a ban on menthol cigarettes would harm public health. By statute, the FDA is supposed to examine how a menthol ban or other cigarette standard would impact the health adult tobacco users. While the FDA has briefed the TPSAC with low-quality, unreliable and ultimately unusable studies on the purported/hypothesized effects of menthol on smoking initiation and cessation, they ignore the health harm from counterfeit cigarettes that would take the place legitimate menthol products.
Cigarettes are already being smuggled into the country to evade taxes. Many of the smuggled cigarettes are counterfeit, made in overseas factories to look – but not taste – like the real thing. These counterfeit cigarettes are way more harmful than real cigarettes.–that’s the federal government’s conclusion.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has warned that “counterfeit cigarettes had 75 percent more tar, 28 percent more nicotine and about 63 percent more carbon monoxide than genuine cigarettes. … Counterfeit cigarettes pose a significant health risk to consumers because of this reason.” You can read the whole publication here: http://www.atf.gov/publications/factsheets/factsheet-tobacco-diversion.html
If menthol cigarettes are banned, they’ll be smuggled in. Many of the smuggled cigarettes will be counterfeit. The counterfeit cigarettes are a far worse health threat than real brand name cigarettes. Ergo, a menthol ban will harm public health. FDA needs to brief the TPSAC on the counterfeit cigarettes and cigarette smuggling issue at their next public meeting. Even better would be for the FDA to invite the ATF to brief the TPSAC since ATF are the experts on counterfeit cigarettes. FDA has used experts from across the federal government, it’s time for them to invite ATF to testify.