The FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Shadow Panel today released the following statement, issued with the unanimous support of its members:
"The FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Shadow Panel supports the elimination of the use of menthol in cigarettes. There is strong evidence that menthol acts as an anesthetic agent that makes cigarette smoking more appealing by masking the harshness of burning tobacco. The addition of menthol deceives consumers into thinking that cigarettes are less harsh and therefore safer. Furthermore, for more than half a century, menthol cigarette brands have been disproportionately targeted to African Americans.
The FDA Shadow Panel wishes to emphasize two additional points. First, we believe that the FDA is digging a hole for itself by trying to provide a scientific argument for increased addiction, morbidity, or mortality attributable to menthol cigarettes. The central question is not a scientific one, but a marketing matter.
Second, there is no evidence that any safer cigarette exists. Congress chose to ban flavored cigarettes not because they are more harmful or addictive, but because it believed that candy and fruit flavors were a significant factor in the marketing of cigarettes. The FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee has no choice but to use the same criteria to evaluate menthol. The central question is whether menthol plays a role in marketing cigarettes to consumers. The FDA Shadow Panel believes it is undeniable that menthol is used to increase the appeal of cigarettes."
The FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Shadow Panel was formed to monitor the FDA's new agency on tobacco and its Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Panel, as well as to issue alternative or parallel consensus statements and recommendations. Each of the members of the Shadow Panel has worked for at least a decade to counteract the tobacco pandemic, and none has a conflict of interest with regard to the tobacco industry or pharmaceutical industry.
The members of the Shadow Panel are:
Alan Blum, MD - Co-Chair
Director, Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society
University of Alabama
K.H. (Heinz) Ginzel, MD
Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Edward Anselm, MD
Medical Director, Americhoice
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
John R. Polito, JD
Founder and Director of WhyQuit.com
Co-Founder of Freedom from Nicotine
Eric Solberg, MS
Associate Dean, University of Texas Health Sciences Center Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Michael Siegel, MD, MPH - Co-Chair
Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences
Boston University School of Public Health
Martin Pion, BSc
Founder, Missouri GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution) Inc.
Michael S. Givel, PhD
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Oklahoma
John O'Hara, BS, MS, PhD
President and Founder, Maryland GASP