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AAP Response to FDA Report on Menthol in Cigarettes

7/23/2013 by: Thomas K. McInerny, MD, FAAP, president, American Academy of Pediatrics
“Today, the Food and Drug Administration took an historic step forward in the effort to protect children from the harms of tobacco use. The FDA released an important report detailing the tragic public health consequences associated with menthol cigarettes.
“The data on menthol is indisputable. The report confirms that menthol in cigarettes is deadly and is helping addict a new generation of tobacco users. Menthol promotes smoking initiation among adolescents, strengthens nicotine addiction, and makes it harder for smokers to quit. The report appropriately concludes that menthol increases the public health risks associated with cigarettes, a finding that confirms a 2011 analysis completed by an FDA advisory committee.
“The FDA also published today an advance notice of proposed rulemaking seeking input on instituting regulations to remove menthol from cigarettes and possibly from all tobacco products. The Tobacco Control Act gives the FDA clear authority to establish tobacco product standards that are needed to protect the public health, and today’s notice is an important step toward standards to protect children and youth from the increased risks associated with menthol.
“For years pediatricians have called for the elimination of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol. We know that candy and other flavors make tobacco products more attractive to children, and it’s time to stop manufacturing products that we know will lead many of today’s children to nicotine addiction, unnecessary illness and premature death. Menthol and other flavors are dangerous in all tobacco products—whether in cigarettes, cigars, or other types of tobacco—and the FDA should act accordingly. We urge the FDA to move forward swiftly with rulemaking to eliminate menthol and other flavors from all tobacco products.”
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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.