FDA panel weighs menthol cigarette ban
Despite evidence that menthol cigarettes are a significant factor in the rise of smoking among adolescents, a federal advisory panel on Friday stopped short of recommending a ban on the cigarettes.Instead, it urged further study of the issue, which suggested that the Food and Drug Administration ultimately would pursue more
modest action, such as marketing restrictions aimed at reducing access for younger consumers.
The panel's long-awaited report on menthol cigarettes was met with a collective shrug from several tobacco companies, whose potent political and legal power could delay any new restrictions for years. Tobacco company stock prices rose after the committee released its report.
"The market sees little in the FDA panel findings to suggest that an outright ban is likely," said R.J. Hottovy, director of consumer research for Morningstar Inc., an investment research firm.
The advisory panel laid out a detailed critique of the special dangers posed by menthols, concluding that "removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States." Still, it declined to take the most stringent step of recommending the cigarettes be removed from the markets, leaving that decision to the FDA, which has the final say on what, if any, action is taken.
Mar 25, 2011