Menthol cigarettes are in great demand among smokers, including very young ones, because the cooling flavor reduces the harshness of tobacco smoke and suppresses coughing. This creates the dangerous illusion that menthol cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes. New research has clearly shown what effect can be obtained by completely banning them.
Last spring, the American Academy of Pediatrics approached the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban menthol cigarettes due to their high demand among children and adolescents. The FDA said that this measure can be implemented, but only if its effectiveness is scientifically proven.
To present this evidence, scientists at the University of Michigan created a simulation model of current trends in the consumption of different types of cigarettes. They developed a hypothetical scenario for banning menthol cigarettes starting in 2021, based on an expert assessment of the potential health effects of smoking. The researchers then compared the difference between mortality and the cumulative number of years of life lost until 2060, if the ban was imposed and not.
Scientists have found that eliminating the production of menthol cigarettes will lead to a 15% decrease in smoking rates in the United States by 2026. The number of deaths among smokers will decrease by about 5%, and the number of years lost – by 8.8%. Over 40 years, a ban on menthol cigarettes will save at least 650,000 American lives.
“The results show that banning menthol will promote smoking cessation or a shift towards safer products such as e-cigarettes,” the study authors said.