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Skepticism Greets Industry Claims on Menthol Safety

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U.S. tobacco companies have ramped up a campaign to keep menthol cigarettes on the market, but U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials are skeptical of claims that menthols are no more harmful than regular cigarettes and want to see more data from the industry.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported July 17 that the FDA's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee — tasked with recommending whether menthol cigarettes should be further regulated or even banned — took testimony last week from industry officials and advocates for banning menthol on health grounds.

A spokesperson for tobacco firm Altria Group Ltd. stated the industry's belief that “the weight of scientific information presented at the [committee] meeting … supports the position that cigarettes with menthol should remain a choice for the millions of adults who prefer them.”

However, several FDA panel members said they believed that menthol affects how people smoke and the ability to quit, and called on the industry to supply more data to back up their claims.

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