The AAFP is urging the FDA to ban the use of menthol in cigarettes and other tobacco products, saying in an Aug. 7 comment letter(2 page PDF) to the agency that menthol is a flavoring agent that encourages tobacco use.
In response to a potential FDA regulation(www.gpo.gov) on the use of menthol in cigarettes, AAFP Board Chair Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.A., of Spokane, Wash., urged the agency to "use its authority to regulate tobacco and force manufacturers to remove menthol as a flavoring agent." Stream also pointed out that, in 2009, the AAFP supported an FDA proposal to ban cigarettes with fruit, candy and spice flavors, as well as menthol.
"The AAFP stands by, fully committed to assist in the development of educational campaigns related to the dangers of menthol and overall tobacco use," said Stream in a letter to the FDA's assistant commissioner for policy.
"We look forward to updating these campaigns to further highlight the specific dangers of menthol in cigarettes," said Stream.
The FDA's request for comments was accompanied by a preliminary scientific evaluation that shows a likely public health impact of menthol in cigarettes, a finding with which the AAFP agrees.
In the letter, Stream noted that the use of mentholated tobacco products is particularly high among African-Americans; nearly 85 percent of African-Americans who smoke use mentholated products, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said Stream.
"While tobacco products and menthol cigarettes remain hazardous to any user, the AAFP urges the FDA to research further the role of mentholated cigarettes in tobacco-related health disparities among smokers," Stream said.
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