FDA Panel Finds that Ban on Menthol Cigarettes Would “Benefit the Public Health”

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended last week that “the removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit the public health.” However, the FDA itself now needs to decide whether or not to accept the recommendation. Reaction to the report was mixed:

Said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: “This is the most conclusive scientific finding that menthol cigarettes dramatically increase youth tobacco use and make it more difficult for African-Americans to quit. It creates a scientific record which compels F.D.A. to act.”

Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco expert and professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, wrote: “This is a huge victory for Lorillard.” The committee’s failure to recommend policy change “swept the issue under the rug by giving the F.D.A. an out.”

Investors reacted favorably. Stock in Lorillard Tobacco, a tobacco company that generates 90 percent of its revenues from menthol cigarettes closed more than 10 percent higher on the day the advisory panel released its report.