Consider these findings from a March report by an FDA panel:
l Eighty percent of adolescent African American smokers use menthol cigarettes.
l Most adolescent Hispanic American smokers use menthol cigarettes.
l Most Asian American middle-school smokers use menthol cigarettes.
l Almost half of 12- to 17-year-old smokers use menthol cigarettes (and, as other research has found, more than 90 percent of adult smokers are hooked as teens).
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, enacted in 2009, bans flavoring a cigarette with any herb or spice, or strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon, pineapple, vanilla, coconut, licorice, cocoa, chocolate, cherry or coffee flavor - except for menthol. Why was menthol flavoring not prohibited as we and many public health professionals urged when Congress considered the bill?
Here's what senior members of Congress told us: If the bill bans menthol flavoring, Philip Morris will withdraw its support and the legislation will not pass. After all, Philip Morris and the other tobacco companies have spent about $20 million a year lobbying for the past 12 years. The tobacco companies also sprinkle campaign contributions to legislators across party lines; last year alone, it gave $1.5 million to Republican members and $800,000 to Democratic members.
Read more at The Washington Post.