Alabama doctor speaks out on menthol cigarette ban

By Gracie Johnson, WVUA 23 reporter

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced its decision to go ahead with a ban on menthol cigarettes within the next year.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which gave the FDA the power to regulate the tobacco industry, did not include menthol in its ban on certain flavors.

Dr Alan Blum, director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society at the University of Alabama, explained that menthol cigarettes were created and advertised as a less harmful way to smoke, leading many to become dependent.

“The heavy marketing of the 1950s was somehow aimed at making people think it was a cooler way to smoke,” he said.

Filtered cigarettes were introduced when doctors discovered smoking was one of the main causes of lung cancer. However, the menthol filter made it easier to inhale more deeply, although many people thought it was a safer alternative.

Blum said he believes there hasn’t been enough work in terms of raising awareness of the dangers of smoking.

“I think the only way to beat the tobacco pandemic is to recognize that so far we have failed,” he said.

A study conducted by the FDA estimated that approximately 633,000 lives could be saved by stopping menthol cigarettes.

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