Online Program

Role of menthol in smoking initiation: Are we really serious about preventing tobacco use among our youth and young adults?

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Valerie B. Yerger, ND, Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Internal industry documents reveal menthol is added to tobacco products to override the harsh taste of tobacco, alleviate nicotine's irritating effects, and stimulate the trigeminal nerve to elicit a “liking” response for the product. Menthol makes smoking easier and is used by tobacco manufacturers to make certain tobacco products especially attractive to youth. Despite general knowledge that menthol cigarettes are a starter tobacco product for youth, efforts by the US government to prevent smoking initiation among adolescents (i.e., Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 and the 2012 Surgeon General Report) have failed thus far to fully acknowledge the role menthol plays in smoking initiation and therefore fall short in protecting our youth. Evidence from tobacco documents suggest that the US Food and Drug Administration should consider that menthol enables tobacco manufacturers to customize a highly addictive product that contributes to the use of tobacco among our youth and young adults.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Discuss how the FDA’s elimination of menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes is a crucial and necessary step to reduce smoking initiation among youth and young people.

Keyword(s): Tobacco Policy, Tobacco Control

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a licensed naturopathic doctor and Associate Professor of Health Policy at the University of California, San Francisco. My research has focused on the use of previously secret internal tobacco documents to uncover the industry’s targeting of marginalized communities. I am part of the UCSF team invited by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to search the legacy tobacco documents archives for tobacco industry research on menthol cigarettes, leading to a number of publications.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.