AMA Refuses To Challenge Menthol Exemption In FDA Bill

Some health experts in the US, including seven former Federal health secretaries, have challenged the proposed exemption for menthol from the FDA tobacco legislation’s list of cigarette flavors to be banned, but the American Medical Association (AMA) refused to oppose the exception by voting on June 17th to refer the decision to its board, with AMA President Dr. Ron Davis saying removing the menthol exemption could imperil the bill’s chances of passage. The AMA vote effectively silences members who wanted the organization to challenge the exemption, which reportedly is a compromise with Philip Morris USA, the only industry player backing the legislation and whose Marlboro Menthol is the second largest menthol brand in the country.

The past few weeks have been filled with speculation regarding the fate of H.R. 1108 especially in light of the exemption of menthol in the flavor ban. Philip Morris states, ” Based on our scientific judgment, menthol does not increase the inherent hazards of smoking”. What are your thoughts? Why does the menthol share continue to grow? Why do folks smoke menthol? What affect does this recent development have on the proposed FDA regulation? Do you think tobacco companies use flavors to attract children to smoke? Or is it to offer it’s adult users variety like other consumable industries? If your a retailer do you focus more on the menthol segment today compared to the past? Are you seeing growth in your menthol business?


#1 Moist Guy on 06.29.08 at 11:28 PM

I’m curious if the flavor ban would affect Moist tobacco. I really don’t think menthol should be banned but I also don’t think that the cigarette brands that are flavored like Djarum & Dreams are marketed towards kids! I mean in order to buy these brands you typically have to go to a tobacco shop or cigar shop. It’s ashame that it doesn’t seem like anyone is setting the anti’s straight!

#2 Hugh Jass on 07.01.08 at 8:07 PM

People are going to smoke or dip. if you take away the methol, they will smoke regular. It really does not matter. It is the nicotine, not the flavor that keeps people smoking.

I have never heard of a kid who liked Vicks and thought that a menthol cigarette would be the ticket to happiness.

#3 Mike Rotch on 07.01.08 at 8:08 PM

If they cross the line into bubble gum flavor or blue raspberry, I woud say they have a point on flavoring to kids. Menthol and wiontergreen? C’mon…

#4 TAZ on 07.04.08 at 3:24 PM

Black Lawmakers Seek Restrictions on Menthol Cigarettes

By Stephanie Saul
New York Times
July 1, 2008

The Congressional Black Caucus is calling for changes to a House
tobacco-regulation bill, demanding that the legislation place restrictions
on menthol cigarettes, the type heavily favored by African-American

The 43-member caucus is taking aim at a provision in the bill that would
ban candy-, fruit- and spice-flavored cigarettes but that specifically
exempts menthol. In recent weeks the exemption has become the focus of
controversy because menthol brands are heavily used by black smokers, who
develop a large share of smoking-related cancers and other health risks.

Donna M. Christensen, the Congressional delegate from the United States
Virgin Islands who heads the black caucus’s health task force, said the
caucus was working with Representative Henry A. Waxman, the California
Democrat who is House bill’s sponsor, to address concerns about menthol.

“We are very aware and gravely concerned about the disproportionate
incidence of lung cancer in the African-American community and, along with
so many minority health experts, have long been concerned about the role
menthol may play,” Ms. Christensen said in an e-mail response to a
reporter’s query.

Ms. Christensen did not disclose the exact wording of any proposed changes
to the legislation. But she said the group was working to strengthen the
bill’s language on research and reporting about menthol and to give the
Food and Drug Administration explicit authority to ban menthol.

On the other side of the debate, Lorillard, the cigarette company that
would stand to lose the most from a ban on menthol, is mounting a
counteroffensive. In e-mail messages sent on June 22 to smokers of its
leading menthol brand, Newport, the company urged them to call their
Congressional representatives.

#5 kentucky rebel on 07.06.08 at 9:49 PM

I can think of a lot of better things that the black congressional caucas could be doing than spending time on this topic. Maybe they could figure out away to keep black males out of the crime circuit or how they can stop the boys in the hood from shooting each other. Novel thought don’t you think!

#6 TAZ on 07.09.08 at 6:45 PM


United States
In an opinion piece published in Right Side News, Dr. Jerome Arnett Jr., a pulmonologist from Helvetia, West Virginia, said “[t]he abuse of scientific integrity and the generation of faulty scientific outcomes” have resulted in “the deception of the American public on a grand scale” about the possible health effects of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and the “government overregulation” to implement tough anti-smoking legislation. (Right Side News 07/08)

#7 TAZ on 07.09.08 at 6:47 PM

Please make sure you look at the posting on ASH as they also are misusing science as reported by Michael Siegel.

#8 MONTE CRISTO on 07.12.08 at 1:45 PM

Im sure there will be some compromise position – like we will study the issue and get back to you later! No way menthol will be banned.

#9 virginia blend on 07.15.08 at 12:40 AM

I really think that folks should stand up for flavors. I mean if the flavor is bubble gum I understand but when I think that Djarum & Dreams will be effected by this legislation I just don’t get it. Folks need to stand for what is correct and not let folks just do as they please.

#10 CIG GUY on 07.16.08 at 8:57 PM

I am amazed at the folks who think that menthol cigarettes are the choice of kids. Folks enjoy the flavor and I for one think that Lorillard has never marketed their product towards kids. Showing me any type of advertising that was directed at kids would just not happen.

#11 SMOKEY on 07.18.08 at 12:32 AM

Really makes no sense in my mind that folks would throw the race card into the mix. I don’t think folks realize that menthol is the preference of the african american smoker but menthol is also smoked by people of all colors and the ratios are pretty diverse.

#12 JD on 07.24.08 at 10:46 AM

Being associated with the tobacco industry during most of my sales and marketing career, it is intriguing to view the interest that lawmakers and opponents place on menthol and other flavoring in tobacco. Lawmakers are urged by vocal advocates amongst their consituency to address health issues. Attacking menthol cigarettes is an easy target for congressional reps. to give the impression that they are listening to the community that elected them to do something. By association, other flavored products get lumped into the mix which then rolls over into the “we’ve got to protect our children – they are our future” crowd. Response from the tobacco industry is expected and self protecting. No one really stops to examine if there is a true cause and affect and get to the root of an issue. If we did, we would probably find the truth which may not have anything to do with flavors, or tobacco but may have something to do with one’s personal genetic makeup which drive a craving for ingredients in tobacco, or flavors, or something else. For the most part, less intrusion by government and more personal choice are better for all.

#13 TAZ on 07.27.08 at 12:45 PM

JD – You raise a very interesting point at the end of your writing as it relates to individual preference. Most folks that know me know I love hot spicy food, but yet others can’t fathom eating hot spicy food! Just a thought and yes less government intrusion is defintely a good thing. Thanks for your great comments!

#14 MONTE CRISTO on 08.01.08 at 4:11 PM

There really was no surprise with the bill passing the house with reference a reference to a menthol test. I do believe that PM is positioning themselves to not support the bill if the nonsense continues. They most likely will use another reason. It boggles my mind that they would support the lack of harm reduction allowance with several of their recent statements as well as all the time and money they have spent on the new facility and research center!

#15 NC Tarheel on 08.03.08 at 11:01 PM

Hanging out today with my friends from greensboro and the feeling is that the science and testing that potential fda regulation will require will not affect the menthol business.

#16 CIG GUY on 08.06.08 at 10:55 PM

I was talking to day to a pretty influential tobacco executive that felt very positive that menthol would be fine in the future! Said there was a report that is referenced from Harvard that is often misused against menthol but the report as stated is misused.

#17 TAZ on 08.13.08 at 6:00 PM

Altadis USA launched a new little cigar brand called Black Max Menthol, available in packs of 20 little cigars. ( 08/13)

#18 TAZ on 08.26.08 at 1:29 PM

In a letter to the Chicago Tribune, Lorillard Tobacco Co Chairman/President/CEO Martin Orlowsky said an August 13th story in the paper “Blacks seen as targets of menthol; Exemption for additive troubles many critics” mischaracterizes the facts on marketing menthol cigarettes, and it is an example of a “coordinated effort by paternalistic moralists through the media who neither know the facts or the science about menthol in cigarettes nor care to learn them.” (Chicago Tribune 08/21)

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