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The Mentholation of Cigarettes

The Mentholation of Cigarettes

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Menthol has been used as a cigarette flavoring agent for almost 90 years, until recently without any concerns over the biological effects of mentholation. Two recent reviews have examined in considerable detail the toxicological sequelae of mentholation, by assessing analytical smoke chemistry, smoking behavior, biomarkers of exposure, airway patency, absorption of nicotine, metabolism of other smoke components, initiation, dependency and cessation, risk of lung cancer, lung cancer in African Americans, and risk of other diseases. The conclusions of the two reviews (and of other recent papers) are identical, suggesting imponderable and therefore inconsequential differences between the effects of smoking mentholated or non-mentholated cigarettes. At the same time, the use of menthol in cigarettes has been criticized on political grounds, largely based on such non-scientific issues as “social justice”, “predatory marketing”, and “mental health issues”, to support contentions that the FDA ban mentholated cigarettes under its new regulatory powers. Yet, whatever the dialectical value of these non-scientific issues, the factually defensible message emerging from the scientific reports is very clear: “Any toxicological effects of cigarette mentholation on smokers are beyond detection and are probably immaterial.”
Menthol has been used as a cigarette flavoring agent for almost 90 years, until recently without any concerns over the biological effects of mentholation. Two recent reviews have examined in considerable detail the toxicological sequelae of mentholation, by assessing analytical smoke chemistry, smoking behavior, biomarkers of exposure, airway patency, absorption of nicotine, metabolism of other smoke components, initiation, dependency and cessation, risk of lung cancer, lung cancer in African Americans, and risk of other diseases. The conclusions of the two reviews (and of other recent papers) are identical, suggesting imponderable and therefore inconsequential differences between the effects of smoking mentholated or non-mentholated cigarettes. At the same time, the use of menthol in cigarettes has been criticized on political grounds, largely based on such non-scientific issues as “social justice”, “predatory marketing”, and “mental health issues”, to support contentions that the FDA ban mentholated cigarettes under its new regulatory powers. Yet, whatever the dialectical value of these non-scientific issues, the factually defensible message emerging from the scientific reports is very clear: “Any toxicological effects of cigarette mentholation on smokers are beyond detection and are probably immaterial.”

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Published by: American Council on Science and Health on Sep 09, 2010
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07/08/2013

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1
The Mentholation of Cigarettes:
A Position Statement of The American Council on Science and Health
Table of Contents
AbstractIntroduction
1.1 Political Contentions
Results
2.
1. Literature reviews on each of the political contentions.
2.1.1. Contentions 1, 3, 4 and 5.2.1.2. Contentions 8 and 9.2.1.3. Contention 7.2.1.4. Contentions 6 and 10.2.1.5. Contention 2.
2.
2. Literature reviews on other effects of mentholation.
2.2.
1.
 
Smoke chemistry; toxicology.2.2.2. Airway patency.2.2.3. Risk of lung cancer.2.2.4. Risk of other diseases.
2.3.
Summary
Overall ConclusionReferences
 
2
Abstract
Menthol has been used as a cigarette flavoring agent for almost 90 years, until recentlywithout any concerns over the biological effects of mentholation. Two recent reviewshave examined in considerable detail the toxicological sequelae of mentholation, byassessing analytical smoke chemistry, smoking behavior, biomarkers of exposure,airway patency, absorption of nicotine, metabolism of other smoke components,initiation, dependency and cessation, risk of lung cancer, lung cancer in AfricanAmericans, and risk of other diseases. The conclusions of the two reviews (and of otherrecent papers) are identical, suggesting imponderable and therefore inconsequentialdifferences between the effects of smoking mentholated or non-mentholated cigarettes.At the same time, the use of menthol in cigarettes has been criticized on politicalgrounds, largely based on such non-scientific issues as “
social justice 
”, “
predatory marketing 
”, and “
mental health issues 
”, to support contentions that the FDA banmentholated cigarettes under its new regulatory powers. Yet, whatever the dialecticalvalue of these non-scientific issues, the factually defensible message emerging from thescientific reports is very clear: “
Any toxicological effects of cigarette mentholation on smokers are beyond detection and are probably immaterial.

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