National Cancer Institute NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
March 22, 2011 • Volume 8 / Number 6

FDA Update

Menthol Cigarettes Adversely Affect Public Health, FDA Advisory Committee Finds

The Food and Drug Administration’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) met on March 17–18 to discuss and finalize its report on the impact of menthol cigarette smoking on public health, including among children and minority populations. Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, enacted in June 2009, the committee is required to submit the report by March 23 to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The committee concluded:

  • There are no public health benefits of menthol compared with non-menthol cigarettes
  • Menthol cigarettes have an adverse impact on public health in the United States
  • Removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States 

The voting members of TPSAC (scientific experts and representatives from state governments, academia, and the public) who wrote the report stopped short of recommending specific action by the FDA. Experts within the FDA Center for Tobacco Products will review the TPSAC report, and the FDA intends to provide its first progress report on the review of the science in approximately 90 days.

“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,” wrote Dr. Lawrence R. Deyton, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “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.”