United States FDA approves menthol vapes

24 June, 2024

The United States Federal Drug Administration is supposed to protect the public health, but some of their decisions do the opposite.

'The first menthol cigarette was created in 1925 by Lloyd 'Spud' Hughes who, while suffering from a cold, stored menthol crystals along with his tobacco and discovered the next day that he had created a mentholated cigarette.' Tobacco Control. 'Since then the tobacco companies have known of menthol's ability to mask the harshness, increase the ease of smoking and provide a cooling sensation that appeals to many smokers. Prior to 1956, sales of menthol cigarettes represented about 3% of the overall cigarette market in the USA,6 reaching 20% in 2006.' Indeed, 'Menthol is added to over 90% of all tobacco products whether labelled ‘menthol’ or not.'

In 2009 the FDA banned flavoured cigarettes *except* menthol. Manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes was allowed to continue.

This week the FDA has approved menthol vapes - the first non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products to get the agency's sign-off. This is clearly a victory for the tobacco industry. (with thanks to Lawrence Gostin and Global Health Now)

When HIFA was launched back in 2006 we focused on knowledge and understanding of generic healthcare information, but it is clear that public knowledge and understanding of health policy and economics - including and especially the tobacco industry and other industries that harm public health - is also part of the 'information that every person needs to protect their own health and the health of others'. HIFA welcomes debate on how to meet information needs to increase such knowledge.

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: neil@hifa.org