Monday, March 21, 2011
Cigarettes are a major killer in the realm of addiction, with about 400,000 people losing their life to tobacco-related diseases every year in the United States. Health officials work especially hard to educate people regarding the dangers of continued cigarette use in conjunction with state governments raising cigarette taxes making them harder to afford; yet, efforts to curb cigarette usage are not all that effective as evident by the continued death toll seen every year. According to the Washington Post, an expert panel advising the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended in a draft report that a ban be placed on menthol cigarettes to protect Americans' health. While the expert panel found that putting menthol in cigarettes did not increase the individual risk of smoking-related health problems, menthol has the ability to attract younger smokers because of the cool sugary flavor and in some ways may be more addictive than regular cigarettes.
What's more, African Americans have been targeted by menthol cigarette makers with heavy advertising in their community, despite the fact that fewer African Americans smoke cigarettes but they are more susceptible to tobacco related diseases. Menthol cigarettes, according to the panel, make it much harder for African Americans to quit smoking and it is believed that taking menthol cigarettes off the market would in turn save thousands of lives. Unfortunately, it will probably take much more than an adversary panel to get menthol cigarettes off the market considering that menthol cigarette sales make up one-third of the $70 billion a year industry.
The FDA is not bound to follow the panel's recommendations, so there is no telling which direction all this will go. According to Lawrence R. Deyton, M.D., who directs the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, "the FDA intends to provide its first progress report on the review of the science in approximately 90 days".