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FDA Reports Menthol Cigarettes Pose a Greater Risk than Regular Cigarettes

Update Date: Jul 23, 2013 03:08 PM EDT

To say that smoking is extremely detrimental to one's health should be of no surprise to any one by now. Recent anti-smoking campaigns and initiatives have spread awareness about the health dangers behind smoking. Although cigarettes can lead to different types of cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that menthol cigarettes might pose a greater risk than regular cigarettes.

The FDA reported that after a preliminary assessment of menthol cigarettes and the effects they have on health, the agency found that mint-flavored menthol cigarettes could be "associated with greater addiction." This conclusion was based on the fact that the agency noticed that people who smoked menthol cigarettes exhibited "greater signs of nicotine dependence and [were] less likely to successfully quit smoking."

Even though the FDA has not issued any regulatory plans, the agency hinted that it might consider taking action against menthol cigarettes specifically, which would affect the sales of this type of cigarette. In 2011, the FDA 's tobacco-products advisory committee did discuss the possibility of removing menthol from cigarettes stating that it could benefit public health. However no actions followed.

Menthol cigarettes are popular amongst smokers, which might explain why regulations have not been placed. Around 80 percent of African American adult smokers prefer menthol cigarettes. Around 30 percent of all adult smokers in the U.S. prefer menthol cigarettes and over 40 percent of youth smokers stated that they smoked menthol cigarettes over regular ones.

As of 2009, Congress gave the FDA the right to regulate cigarettes.  Earlier this year, the FDA did use its authoritative power and rejected four cigarettes. Whether or not the agency will choose to regulate menthol cigarettes remains to be seen. The FDA has issued a formal notice hoping to get public opinion on the possibility of regulating menthol cigarettes. Even if public comments sway the agency to regulate menthol cigarettes, changes would still take awhile. The FDA stated that it planned on funding three additional studies to evaluate the differences between menthol and regular cigarettes before making any huge regulatory changes. 

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