Oklahoma City – Health officials have reported that menthol cigarette days can be numbered, but nobody knows for sure what smokers will do if their favorite mark goes out of the market.
Ted Wagener, director of regulatory science at the Oklahoma Research Center for Tobacco, hopes to be able to shed something soon. He and other researchers bring smokers to their labs to compare how they evaluate menthol cigarettes and replacement products, such as "small cigars" – essentially cigarettes with another wrapping.
If smokers like small cigars as much as cigarettes, it's a sign that just banning menthol in cigarettes will not do as well because users will only switch to an equally damaging product, said Wagener.
"You will simply change what smokers do," he said.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the Food and Drug Administration, announced on Thursday that the agency will try to create rules on banning menthol in cigarettes and cigarettes. It also announced that the FDA would prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes with flavors other than tobacco, menthol and menthol in locations such as conventional stores. People aged 18 or older could still buy the full range of flavors in the specialist viper shops.
Both measures are meant to reduce the number of youths who become addicted to nicotine, while encouraging adults to switch from traditional smoking to e-cigarettes or give up altogether, said Gottlieb.
More than half of smokers use menthol cigarettes, compared with about 39% of all smokers, Wagener said. Menthol reduces irritation in the throat and does not have the unpleasant smell of tobacco. However, it makes cigarettes more dependent as it slows down the way the body processes nicotine, he said.
Banning menthol cigarettes and sweet complications of e-cigarettes will discourage adolescents from becoming smokers, Wagener said, but it is unclear to help people who are already addicted. Adult cigarette smokers could switch to inappropriate cigarettes, he said.