WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday it may place restrictions on menthol cigarettes following a scientific review that showed the products are likely to be more addictive than regular cigarettes.
The FDA published preliminary results from its study, which suggests "menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with nonmenthol cigarettes."
Menthol cigarettes, about a quarter of all cigarettes sold in the United States, are no more or less toxic than regular cigarettes, but menthol's cooling and anesthetic properties can reduce the harshness of cigarette smoke, increasing their appeal to new smokers, the study found.
"Menthol smokers show greater signs of nicotine dependence and are less likely to successfully quit smoking," the FDA said.
The FDA is seeking public comment on whether a limit could be set on the amount of menthol in cigarettes. It is also seeking information on how menthol cigarettes are marketed to young people and minorities.
Anti-tobacco groups said the FDA already has enough evidence to ban menthol cigarettes.
"This additional delay will simply prolong the disease and death caused by menthol cigarettes, with particularly adverse consequences for youth and African-Americans who smoke menthol cigarettes at disproportionately higher rates," said David Dobbins, chief operating officer at Legacy, a tobacco research and public health advocacy group.