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Potential Ban On Menthol Cigarettes Gets Big Tobacco's Attention

Menthol Ban

AP/The Huffington Post   First Posted: 03/17/11 01:38 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:40 PM ET

UPDATE: Advisors said in a report Friday that banning menthol sales would improve public health, Reuters reports.

The Food and Drug Administration is considering limiting or even banning menthol cigarettes. An advisory panel will consider the topic and send a report and recommendation to the FDA by next week.

FDA advisors point to the fact that menthols are growingly popular with teens and minority youth in the U.S., and health advocates worry the minty flavoring could mask the tobacco, making menthols both easier to smoke and harder to quit, reports Reuters.

The tobacco industry responded today, arguing in a report to the FDA that menthol cigarettes aren't riskier than regular cigarettes.

The industry is trying to defend a lucrative business as the agency weighs whether to ban the minty flavoring.

According to a summary obtained by The Associated Press, the industry says it believes there's no scientific basis to regulate the menthol any differently. It concludes that menthol cigarettes don't make it easier for people to start, harder for them to quit or raise their risk of disease.

An FDA advisory panel meets Thursday and Friday to discuss its own report on the impact of menthol.

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