“The scientific evidence strongly establishes that the availability of menthol cigarettes both increases the level of smoking initiation and decreases the level of smoking cessation,” wrote the coalition in a Nov. 10 letter to FDA. “There is a growing body of evidence that the elimination of menthol cigarettes would lead a substantial number of current menthol smokers to quit smoking rather than switch to non-menthol cigarettes in response to a prohibition on menthol cigarettes.”
The groups also urged the FDA to prohibit menthol flavoring because:
• It increases the number of children who experiment with cigarettes and the number who become regular smokers.
• Menthol-flavored cigarettes increase addiction and reduce cessation, disproportionately harm the health of African Americans, and worsen existing health disparities.
• It will potentially cause “significant numbers” of current menthol smokers to quit.
The coalition noted that since the 2011 FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee Report recommended removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace, FDA “has consistently found that the scientific evidence establishes that menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes is harmful to public health.”
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