Group Presses for U.S. Ban on Menthol Cigarettes

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"These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers," Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of food and drugs, said when announcing the ban.

It was the first major FDA action against tobacco manufacturers since being granted the right to regulate cigarettes under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed by President Obama in June.

The ban affected not just flavored tobacco, but all flavored filters and cigarette rolling papers except for menthol-flavored products.

The omission of menthol, the most popular additive, from the ban left many tobacco experts puzzled.

"Getting rid of the flavor additives is a good thing; the only elephant in the room is menthol," said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and director of the University of California San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, at the time of the ban.

"It's pretty outrageous to leave menthol off the list," Glantz added. "Menthol is very important to the tobacco industry."

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