FDA considers role of menthol in cigarette smoking behavior

Of particular concern is the effect menthol may have on smoking initiation and cessation in underage smokers and minorities
On October 7, the FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) met to consider ongoing progress to develop a congressionally mandated report on the public health impact of menthol in cigarettes. Of particular concern is the effect menthol may have on initiation, maintenance of smoking and cessation in underage smokers and minorities. Background information circulated in advance of the meeting covered a wide range of topics including menthol marketing, sensory perception, initiation, smoking topography and cessation. Sources included the 2004 Surgeon General’s report, CDC epidemiologic survey data, literature reviews undertaken by FDA, and reviews of internal tobacco industry documents. Considerable discussion was devoted to the standards of evidence (PDF, 1.28 MB) that should be applied in developing the report, which is due in March 2011. The possibility that TPSAC might ultimately recommend banning menthol created controversy in the African American community where menthol cigarettes dominate the market share. APA Fellow Dorothy Hatsukami, who serves on the Menthol Report Subcommittee, will co-author several chapters of the report including those on physiologic effects, initiation and cessation.