Tobacco Giants Sue to Stop Possible Ban on Menthol Cigarettes

In an aggressive move to stave off a possible ban on menthol cigarettes, two tobacco companies have sued the Food and Drug Administration, alleging that some members of its tobacco advisory committee have conflicts of interest.

The Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee was due to issue by March 23 its non-binding recommendation on whether menthol cigarettes should be banned. Supporters of the ban say the menthol flavoring makes smoking more appealing to youngsters, encouraging them to take up the habit.

But Lorillard Inc. and R.J. Reynolds, which between them make the top three menthol brands, aren’t waiting around to see what the committee decides. In a lawsuit filed Friday, they are seeking a court order enjoining the FDA from receiving or relying on the recommendation of the committee.

“We are taking this action reluctantly after the FDA failed to constitute the committee in accordance with the law and failed to properly address legitimate concerns regarding fairness and impartiality,” Ronald S. Milstein, Lorillard’s top lawyer, said in a news release.

Menthol cigarettes make up more than a quarter of the U.S. market and are particularly popular among black smokers. The fight over a possible ban is critical for Lorillard, whose Newport brand leads the menthol market and, according to Dow Jones Newswires, accounts for roughly 90 percent of its sales. RJR makes the Kool and Salem brands.

The suit alleges that three members of the advisory committee have conflicts of interest because they have served as paid expert witnesses in litigation against tobacco companies and have “continuing financial relationships” with pharmaceutical companies that make smoking-cessation products.

Lorillard said it has “urged the FDA to ensure that members of the panel were free of conflicts. Those concerns, however, were either summarily rejected or entirely ignored.”

But an anti-smoking advocacy group, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, shot back that “Lorillard and R.J. Reynolds have acted out of panic.” In a statement, the group added that the companies “fear that the committee, having examined the evidence, will recommend effective actions that reduce or eliminate the lucrative market for menthol cigarettes. Once again, they are putting profits ahead of lives and health.”

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Lorillard has been engaged in a “fierce battle” to avert a menthol ban, “even buying up a host of menthol-bashing Internet domain names, including MentholKillsMinorities.com, MentholAddictsYouth.com and FDAMustBanMenthol.com.” It has also created the pro-menthol website Understanding Menthol.

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Tobacco Firm Campaigns to Block Possible Ban on Menthol Smokes
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One comment to “Tobacco Giants Sue to Stop Possible Ban on Menthol Cigarettes”

  1. Karen

    Menthol cigarettes do NOT at all, in any form or mutation, resemble that of an edible mint candy. The old ways of teaching children not to smoke, in the early 80′s on to current times in some cases, are by giving the pre-teen a pack of cigs and make them smoke them until the lesson is learned the hard way (old-fashioned way; in which I do not support nor condone) and the minor becomes ill. My thinking about this notion, as well as MILLIONS of other adult smokers of all types of cigarettes, about menthol cigarettes resembling that of a Christmas treat such as a candy cane is abserd. Chew a menthol cigarette and tell any sane or even semi-sane aged adult, and I would have to bet my life on the INSANE comparison of a cigarette to a piece of minty candy.
    I will add that in attacking menthol cigarettes, certain brands are extremely exploited and pushed in a tight corner. Their business is facing a serious loss, where as the big ‘traditional’ names in tobacco; Phillip Morris, Marlboro, etc. are NOT subject to losing their companies. Whether this is a cover up to put the focus of the toxicity of cigarettes merely on a menthol flavored cigarette by the more ‘sucessfull and richer’ companies is complete nonsense. Just another nitch for the totem pole of tobacco giants, old rich businesses, and political involvement has simply bought time for the tobacco giants, all the while creating a specialized monopoly, purposely forcing other semi-sucessfull tobacco companies out of business. That ofcourse creates more revenue for these giants.
    Further more, snuf, dip, and chew are the MOST flavored type of tobacco that could even or EVER even be considered representitive of a candy like comparison. All sorts of mouth cancers and throat cancers are also beyond present with this habit in particuliar. Based on many studies’ results, chew or snuf acts fast in harming a person’s body. Cancer of the mouth, throat, and tongue develop quick and if you ask me; WHAT IS A MENTHOL CIGARETTE DOING THAT IS SUCH A TRAGEDY, THAT OTHER CIGARETTES, SNUF, AND OTHER TOBACCO PRODUCTS DO NOT AFFECT HEATH JUST THE SAME? Just like politics, this is full of lies and games in the name of the diminishing value of our beloved dollar bill. Keep that 1% rich, use the right Politician with the right paycheck (donation to campains~ right) and any big power business with large revenue can control the entire Government. Capitalism at its finest, and another ‘smoke-screen’, mind you, to divert attention where attention is not needed.
    Tell the sheep what to follow, and in doing so….the broad middle class, and lower classes smoke their way to death: Menthol or NOT.

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