[Ip-health] Reuters: FDA considers tightening rules on menthol cigarettes

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Jul 24 03:53:49 PDT 2013


<SNIP>


The FDA's move comes during a trade dispute in which
Indonesia<http://www.reuters.com/places/indonesia> has
charged that the United States illegally allowed menthol cigarettes to
remain on the market while banning the import of clove-flavored cigarettes
from Indonesia.

In 2012, the World Trade Organization ruled that the United States should
either end its ban on Indonesia's imports or impose a ban on U.S. menthol
cigarettes. So far the United States has stopped short of a ban.

"The United States has been clear that it would comply with the WTO
findings in a way that is appropriate for the public health," said a
statement from Andrea Mead, a spokeswoman for the Office of the United
States Trade Representative, which negotiates with foreign governments to
create trade agreements and resolve disputes.


--

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/23/us-tobacco-fda-idUSBRE96M0T320130723

FDA considers tightening rules on menthol cigarettes


By Toni Clarke and Tom Miles


WASHINGTON/GENEVA | Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:02pm EDT

(Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday it may
place restrictions on menthol cigarettes following a scientific review that
showed the products are likely to be more addictive than regular cigarettes.

The FDA published preliminary results from a study it conducted that
suggests "menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with
non-menthol cigarettes."

The report found that while menthol cigarettes, which account for about a
quarter of all cigarettes sold in the United States, are no more or less
toxic than regular cigarettes, menthol's cooling and anesthetic properties
can reduce the harshness of cigarette smoke, increasing their appeal to new
smokers.

"Menthol smokers show greater signs of nicotine dependence and are less
likely to successfully quit smoking," the FDA said.

The FDA is seeking public comment on whether a limit could be set on the
amount of menthol in cigarettes. It is also seeking information on how
menthol cigarettes are marketed to young people and minorities.

Anti-tobacco groups said the FDA has enough evidence in hand to ban menthol
cigarettes and should not need additional input from companies or the
public.

"This additional delay will simply prolong the disease and death caused by
menthol cigarettes, with particularly adverse consequences for youth and
African-Americans who smoke menthol cigarettes at disproportionately higher
rates," said David Dobbins, chief operating officer at Legacy, a tobacco
research and public health advocacy organization.

Shares of Lorillard Inc, which makes the Newport brand of menthol
cigarettes, fell as much as 5 percent while shares of Altria Group, which
makes a menthol version of its Marlboro brand, fell as much as 3 percent.

Lorillard Chief Executive Murray Kessler said in a statement that the
company is "encouraged" by the FDA's "science-based approach."

"It is Lorillard's long-held belief that the best available science
demonstrates that menthol cigarettes have the same health effects as
non-menthol cigarettes and should be treated no differently," he said.

A spokesman for Altria, David Sylvia, said the company had just received
the FDA's report and was reviewing the information.

The tobacco industry has previously acknowledged the inherent risks of all
tobacco products, the FDA said, but the industry has raised the possibility
of a black market in menthol cigarettes emerging should a ban be imposed.

At least some tobacco company analysts interpreted the tone of the report
as positive for the industry in so far as the FDA did not immediately
recommend an outright ban. An advisory committee to the agency had
recommended in 2011 that they be removed from the market. The agency is
under no obligation to follow the panel's recommendations.

"We believe it's unlikely that menthol will be banned," said Bonnie Herzog,
an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, in a research report. "We see this as
a buying opportunity as we expect the stock to recover as investors digest
this report," she said, referring to Lorillard shares.

The FDA's move comes during a trade dispute in which
Indonesia<http://www.reuters.com/places/indonesia> has
charged that the United States illegally allowed menthol cigarettes to
remain on the market while banning the import of clove-flavored cigarettes
from Indonesia.

In 2012, the World Trade Organization ruled that the United States should
either end its ban on Indonesia's imports or impose a ban on U.S. menthol
cigarettes. So far the United States has stopped short of a ban.

"The United States has been clear that it would comply with the WTO
findings in a way that is appropriate for the public health," said a
statement from Andrea Mead, a spokeswoman for the Office of the United
States Trade Representative, which negotiates with foreign governments to
create trade agreements and resolve disputes.

The U.S. has until Wednesday to comply with the WTO ruling.

Lorillard's shares were down 4.3 percent in afternoon trading to $44.36 on
the New York Stock Exchange. Earlier they fell as low as $43.77. Altria's
shares were 2.4 percent lower at $35.98, after dropping as low as $35.73.

(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington and Tom Miles in Geneva; Editing by
Tim Dobbyn and Carol Bishopric)
HEALTH <http://www.reuters.com/news/health>



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