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Oklahoma scientists weigh in on the proposed menthol ban

Oklahoma City – Federal Health Care Officer has announced that days of menthol cigarettes can be numbered, but nobody is…

Oklahoma City – Federal Health Care Officer has announced that days of menthol cigarettes can be numbered, but nobody is quite sure what smokers will do if their favorite brand is on the market.

Ted Wagener, director of regulatory science at the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, hopes to shed some light on it soon. He and other researchers put smokers in their laboratories to compare how to count mentol cigarettes and replacement products, such as flavored “small cigars” – essentially different types of cigarettes.

If the smokers like the small cigars as much as the cigarettes, it’s a sign of just banning menthol in cigarettes alone will not do very well, because users will only switch to an equally harmful product, said Wagener.

“You just have to move what smokers are using,” he said.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner for Food and Drug Administration, announced Thursday the agency will try to create rules prohibiting menthol in cigarettes and cigars. He also announced that the FDA would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes with flavors other than tobacco, mint and menthol in places like convenience stores. People aged 1

8 or over can still buy the full range of flavors in specialized wrap stores.

Both measures are designed to reduce the number of adolescents dependent on nicotine while encouraging adults to switch from traditional smoking to e-cigarettes, or to quit completely, Gottlieb said.

More than half of underage smokers use menthol cigarettes, compared with about 39 percent of smokers, said Wagener. Menthol reduces irritation of the throat and does not have unpleasant odors of tobacco. But it makes cigarettes more addictive because it slows down how the body treats nicotine, he said.

Prohibition of menthol cigarettes and making it harder to get cute e-cigarette flavors are likely to prevent teens from becoming common smokers, Wagener said, but it is not clear that it will help people who are already addicted. Adult cigarette smokers are likely to switch to unflavored cigarettes, he said.


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