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Menthol Cigarettes Make It Easier To Start Smoking
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Smoking may be controlled, but it is still the world's second biggest cause of preventable death. Tobacco kills almost 6 million individuals each year, around 10% of all deaths. Smoking results in hundreds of billions of dollars in economic costs from increased healthcare costs and lost productivity.
In the West, anti-smoking campaigns seem to have stopped. It is estimated that 1 in 5 adults in the USA smokes, about the same as 10 years ago. Now those who want to lower the harm from smoking have suggested a new measure: a ban on menthol substance in cigarettes.
Last week, after months of intense debate, the European Parliament voted to ban menthol cigarettes, which will come into action in 2022. Similar moves are occuring in the US, again surrounded by intense debate.
Menthol cigarettes were invented in the 1920s by Lloyd "Spud" Hughes of Mingo Junction, Ohio. He stored his cigarettes in a tin with menthol crystals that he used to treat a persistent cold. The tobacco absorbed the mint flavour and made the cigarettes much easier to smoke. Soon Hughes started to sell menthol cigarettes and by 1932 his Spud brand was the 5th bestselling cigarette in the country.
These days almost a quarter of cigarettes sold in the US are menthol. 30% of adult smokers and more than 40% of youth smokers report smoking them. In 2009, the US passed a law that for the first time gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products. The agency today has the power to regulate the levels of harmful components they have.
The FDA rapidly acted to ban flavour cigarettes such as chocolate and vanilla, which are thought to be particularly attractive to kids and teens but it stopped short of banning menthol waiting for more studies to be perfoemed.
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