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SILVER SPRINGS, Md. -- The Food and Drug Administration's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee has concluded in its draft report that the "removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States."
The conclusion on the committee's first charge -- to evaluate the available scientific evidence on the impact of the use of menthol in cigarettes on the public health is nonbinding and will now go to the FDA to review. Submission of the final report is expected Wednesday, March 23.
"The TPSAC's recommendation of 'removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States' is simply that -- a committee recommendation based on its review of current, prevailing science on the topic of menthol as an ingredient in cigarettes," said Dr. Lawrence R. Deyton, director for the Center for Tobacco Products, Food and Drug Administration. "The TPSAC report will undergo a thorough review by experts within the FDA Center for Tobacco Products. These experts will analyze the evidence regarding the impact of the use of menthol in cigarettes on the public health. The Tobacco Control Act requires that this analysis take into account the tobacco product standard's risks and benefits to the population as a whole (including users and non-users), effects on overall smoking initiation and cessation rates, technical achievability and countervailing effects such as the creation of a demand for contraband. With a thorough review of the report and recommendations pending, it is important to note that FDA's receipt of the final report does not have a direct or immediate effect on the availability of menthol products in the marketplace."
The FDA intends to provide its first progress report on the review of the TPSAC recommendations in approximately 90 days, Deyton said. "Although there is no required deadline or timeline for FDA to act on the issue of menthol in cigarettes, we recognize the strong interest in this issue among all stakeholders and will continue to communicate the steps the FDA is taking as it determines what future regulatory actions, if any, are warranted.
The committee's nonbinding recommendation comes three weeks after Lorillard and RJ Reynolds filed suit to stop the FDA from receiving or relying on recommendations it may receive from its scientific advisory committee, as CSNews Online reported on Feb. 28.