A group of black physicians has requested President Obama to ban sales of menthol-flavored cigarettes, arguing they represent a bigger threat than regular cigarettes, mainly among young black men. The African-American Tobacco Control Leadership Council requested Obama in a letter to direct the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove this product from the market.

480,000 people die every year in the U.S. due to tobacco-related diseases. Smoking trends are currently higher among young African-Americans when compared to other racial groups. Menthol-flavored lights have been associated with increasing smoking habits among black high-schoolers and pronounce addiction levels in all smokers, concluded the FDA in a study.

Menthol-flavored cigarettes
Marlboro menthol-flavored cigarettes. Image credit: Tumblr.

“Young African Americans die disproportionally from tobacco-related diseases compared to other people in the population,” said Dr. Philip Gardiner, co-chairman of the African-American Tobacco Control Leadership Council.

African-Americans prefer menthol-flavored cigarettes

In 2010, a report conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 83 percent of black adults smokers and 72 percent of underage black men who smoke are more likely to consume menthol flavored cigarettes than regular ones.

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration assured that menthol cigarettes are a greater risk to public health that the regular ones, but no ban was made after that.

According to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, the company that produces The Newport cigarettes, menthol cigarettes are in no way more harmful that other cigarettes and “there is no need to impose a different regulation on them.”

Black physicians asked President Obama to give the African American community a fighting chance against tobacco. “What we are asking of you, President Obama, can be accomplished rapidly with the stroke of a pen,” said the letter.

Last month, the FDA prohibited sales of e-cigarettes to minors. The institution has been cracking down the online cigarette industry by issuing 24 letters to websites that are reportedly responsible for illegally selling  e-cigarettes to people under 18.

The websites have 15 days to explain the FDA how they will prevent future sales to minors if they don’t want to be fined $275.

Between August 8-31, the FDA conducted 8700 inspections in tobacco retailers and sent 400 warning letters to cigarette and smokeless tobacco sales.

The biggest challenge for these shops on the matter is to face the costs of applying for FDA approval of the products they offer since it would cost around $2 million to $10 million per product.

Source: Fox News Health