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The Boys Who Cried Truth: Lorillard Defends Menthol


The Lorillard tobacco company — which makes Newport cigarettes — wants it known that there’s nothing wrong with menthol cigarettes — well, nothing more than the death and disease associated with other cigarettes — and says it has the website to prove it.

The company’s Understanding Menthol website — amusingly unveiled on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the tobacco industry as the nation’s most deadly liars — can be best viewed as an attempt to sway public opinion ahead of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel’s decision on if and how menthol should be regulated, restricted or banned like other cigarette flavorings.

As far as Lorillard is concerned, the question is moot: “In analyzing menthol in cigarettes, the FDA and its advisory committee have the responsibility of assessing sound, legitimate and objective scientific data,” said William R. True, Ph.D., senior vice president of research and development for Lorillard, who called menthol “one of the most widely studied ingredients in cigarettes.”

“The scientific evidence does not show that menthol in cigarettes is harmful and Lorillard believes Americans have a right to make a personal choice to use any legal product,” True said. “Menthol neither causes people to smoke, nor deters them from quitting. A menthol cigarette is just another cigarette — and should be treated no differently. The best available scientific evidence demonstrates that menthol cigarettes have the same health effects as nonmenthol cigarettes.”

By the way, Big Tobacco wants you to know that smoking isn’t addictive and doesn’t cause cancer. Oh, wait — that was their position until the late 1990s and even later. Now they admit both — well sort of, at least when they’re not being sued. So I think you should just take their word for it on menthol.

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