Two strikes against TPSAC menthol recommendation

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On his TobaccoAnalysis blog, Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor in the department of community health sciences at Boston University s School of Public Health, criticizes the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) for failing once again to make a recommendation to the FDA regarding a possible ban on menthol cigarettes. TPSAC recently released an amended report following its first one issued in March, which originally stated that removing menthol cigarettes from the market would benefit the public s health. However, as Dr. Siegel observes, the new report has only minor revisions and, yet again, evades the task of making a real recommendation:

The report's "recommendation" remained a self-evident conclusion rather than a recommendation ¦ In fact, the report goes on to insist that it has no particular position on the issue or advice to the FDA, other than that the agency be sure to consider the potential contraband effects of a menthol ban if it does consider such a policy.

But the contraband effects of a menthol ban are not simply possible they re actually highly probable, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. And in addition to a black market on menthol cigarettes, which will provide minors with ready access to smoking, a menthol ban would not get many smokers to quit. Most would either buy illicit menthol cigarettes or switch to the regular variety. He adds, Mandating the removal of menthol from cigarettes would lead to unintended consequences that would outweigh any potential benefits.