The good news: This year Congress granted the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products. The agency will have the power to change existing products and also to ban new products unless it decides they contribute to public health. It will impose a ban on tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds and mandate new graphic warning labels by 2012 that will occupy 50 percent of the space on each pack of cigarettes.
Today the agency announced that it is banning tobacco products containingchocolate, vanilla, clove and other flavorings that ease children and teenagers into the smoking habit. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/23/health/policy/23fda.html?scp=1&sq=flavored%20cigarettes&st=cse
The bad news: As a political compromise the regulations exempt only one form of tobacco flavoring: menthol. This additive is used in about one-quarter of cigarettes sold today. But, three-quarters of black smokers prefer menthol. Antismoking groups that represent African Americans wanted the ban to include menthol because black smokers also have a disproportionate share of lung cancer. The lobbyists for Big Tobacco still manage to extract victory from the jaws of defeat.
See also: Duff Wilson, “Congress Passes Measure on Tobacco Regulation,” New York Times (June 12, 2009), www.nytimes.com/2009/06/13/business/13tobacco.html, Stephanie Saul, “Cigarette Bill Treats Menthol with Leniency,” New York Times (May 13, 2008), www.nytimes.com/2008/05/13/Business/13menthol.Html?_R=1&Oref=Slogin.
Adapted from Michael R. Solomon, Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being 9th ed, Prentice Hall, to be published January 2010.