Menthol is an organic compound which is now widely
used in a variety of products due to its anesthetic and counterirritant
qualities. Since the 1920s, menthol has been added to cigarettes and it is
estimated that, approximately one quarter of all cigarettes sold in the United
States today have the descriptor “menthol” on the cigarette pack. Whilst the
health effects of tobacco use and cigarette smoking are well documented, the
health effects of mentholated cigarettes as compared to non-menthol cigarettes
is less well studied.
22 June 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Family
Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, H.R. 1256, a new US federal law giving the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) the power to regulate the tobacco industry. And in
accordance with section 907(a) of the Tobacco Control Act, the FDA announced
a ban on the addition of flavours characterizing fruit, candy, or clove to
cigarettes. Whilst the Act specifically excluded menthol flavours from the ban,
it mandated the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory
Committee (TPSAC) to deliver a report to the
Secretary of Health and Human Services on the impact of the use of menthol in
cigarettes on public health.
preparation for the inaugural meeting of the TPSAC, the FDA’s Center for
Tobacco Products (CTP) has reviewed peer-reviewed literature on menthol and
tobacco and has just published a supplement in Tobacco Induced
Diseases entitled ‘Mentholated
cigarettes and public health’.
Supported by the FDA’s Center for
Tobacco Products, the supplement consists of seven reviews providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date
peer-reviewed information on such subjects spanning the epidemiology
of menthol cigarettes, marketing and
effects of menthol cigarettes as compared to non-menthol cigarettes.
Find out more about the public health impacts of menthol in cigarettes
and read all the reviews here.