WASHINGTON -Tobacco manufacturing companies asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration€™s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee to not prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes because of the high likelihood that such a move would create a black market, Dow Jones News reports. The committee held a two-day meeting this week on the topic of menthol cigarettes.
The advisory committee is tasked with writing a report about menthol€™s public health impact, which is due in March. The panel will hold several more meetings as it gathers information for the report.
Questions under consideration include menthol€™s role in smoking cessation and addiction, and whether menthol increases a smoker€™s risk of disease.
Lorillard and RJ Reynolds representatives addressed the panel, arguing that menthol cigarettes should be regulated just like regular cigarettes. Altria Group Inc. provided written comments, saying that it€™s "difficult to predict with absolute certainty what consumers would do if menthol cigarettes were banned." Altria also concluded that a ban of menthol cigarettes "is likely to significantly increase the total demand for illicit cigarettes."
A report funded by Lorillard drew the conclusion that a ban of menthol cigarettes would fast establish a "sizable black market." Read "A Ban on Menthol? Or Will Common Sense Prevail" in the December NACS Magazine.