Give me cigarettes or give me health: 82% of menthol smokers would quit if FDA banned menthol cigarettes, GSK survey finds

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Four-in-5 menthol smokers would quit if the Food and Drug Administration banned mentholated cigarettes, according to a survey conducted this month with sponsorship from GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.

The survey found that smokers of menthol cigarettes — who are disproportionately African-American — feel “twice-addicted” to the menthol and the tobacco, while 74% of them said the menthol made inhalation easier, and 40% said menthol flavoring was the only reason they smoked.

“Almost all menthol smokers in the survey reported they want to quit, but were less likely to have tried quitting than regular smokers,” National Medical Association president-elect and Duke University medical professor Cedric Bright said. “With the high interest in quitting among these smokers, more needs to be done to educate smokers about accessible resources, such as counseling and nicotine-replacement therapy, which are proven methods for improving success rates.”

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which president Barack Obama signed into law in 2009, banned most cigarette flavorings, such as cloves, but left menthol cigarettes legal while requiring a study on them. Still, a panel of the Food and Drug Administration, which was given authority to regulate tobacco products under the new law, recommended Friday that the agency consider banning menthol cigarettes.

Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of cancer-related deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

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