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When it comes to cigs, it’s politics as usual

September 28, 2009

There’s a great article in today’s USA Today about the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, and how it bans all flavors of cigarettes, except for the most popular: menthol.  Studies have repeatedly shown that adolescents and African-Americans prefer menthol cigarettes, yet this sweeping ban does not include them, and some health experts want to know why.

cigsOne researcher, who in 2002 said that “Any proposed legislation should consider the special problems of menthol and its relationship to high cigarette consumption, especially for African-American adolescents,” just last week said banning menthol cigarettes would create an illegal market for them.

Perhaps, but public health professor Jennifer Ibrahim thinks it’s just politics as usual.

“Earlier versions of the ban included menthol cigarettes,” she noted in June.  “But they were taken out of the final version because it wasn’t politically feasible to include them.”

The bill, such as it is, is a good first step, but it leaves a big hole by leaving menthol out, she says; more aggressive legislation will be needed in the future.

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