According to a new study, tobacco companies in order to lure new smokers manipulate the amount of menthol in a cigarette. Though menthol is not addictive, its addition makes the nicotine in the cigarettes more easily palatable, particularly for the newer, younger smokers. Dr. Gregory Connolly of the Harvard School of Public Health said, "Menthol stimulates the cooling receptors in the lung and oral pharynx, it makes smoking easier."
The study published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that more than 70% of African –Americans buy menthol cigarettes as compared to 30% of the white smokers. Experts though are still not sure if menthol cigarettes are more harmful than regular cigarettes.
"If anything, menthol is being used as a candy to help the toxin go down. If we let the industry go ahead and willy-nilly design the product the way they want to, it's going to lead to the premature death of millions and millions of Americans. Our research says we have to go after this," said Dr. Gregory Connolly, senior author of a paper being published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death in the U.S. causing more than 400,000 deaths every year. The U.S. Congress is considering a legislation that would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration power to regulate menthol as well as other additives in cigarettes. "This study provides evidence of one of the many ways tobacco companies manipulate the ingredients in cigarettes in an effort to entice and addict new consumers," said John R. Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. "Legislation in Congress would give the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products and put an end to tobacco industry practices that prey upon children and blatantly mislead adults. The bill would end the marketing of tobacco products to children, force companies for the first time to disclose the ingredients in their products and allow the FDA to regulate all tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, based on science."
Tobacco companies however are expressing their displeasure at the pending legislation. David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds, a unit of Reynolds American Inc and maker of Camel and Kool cigarettes said, "it would appear this report is simply an effort to push support for federal regulation of the tobacco industry, not a scientific review of the menthol category."