Menthol May Boost Cigarettes’ Addictive Properties: Study

Menthol May Boost Cigarettes’ Addictive Properties: Study

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) — The mint flavoring in menthol cigarettes makes it easier for young people to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.

In a review of existing research, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that, although there’s little evidence that menthol cigarettes are more or less dangerous than non-menthol cigarettes, findings suggest that “menthol use is likely associated with increased smoking initiation by youth and young adults.”

Studies also indicate that “menthol in cigarettes is likely associated with greater addiction [because] menthol smokers show greater signs of nicotine dependence and are less likely to successfully quit smoking,” the review said.

Evidence suggests that menthol’s “cooling and anesthetic properties” can make cigarette smoke taste less harsh, so it’s “likely that menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with non-menthol cigarettes,” the agency said.

The FDA said it was posting the review to gather “all comments, data, research and other information” in the next 60 days “to determine what, if any, regulatory action with respect to menthol in cigarettes is appropriate.”

In 2009, Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, giving the FDA regulatory authority over the tobacco industry.

“Menthol cigarettes raise critical public health questions,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said in an agency news release. “The FDA is committed to a science-based approach that addresses the public health issues raised by menthol cigarettes, and public input will help us make more informed decisions about how best to tackle this important issue moving forward.”

The menthol in cigarettes has been a controversial ingredient for years.

Also Tuesday, a just-published study suggested that menthol’s interactions in the brain may play a role in its appeal to smokers.

If that’s true, menthol could contribute to nicotine addiction, said review author Nadine Kabbani, a neuroscientist and assistant professor at George Mason University in Falls Church, Va. If that’s the case, she said, “then it’s important for regulatory bodies to consider the implications of menthol on public health.”

Earlier this month, Joseph Califano Jr., a former health, education and welfare secretary in the Jimmy Carter administration, and Louis Sullivan, a health and human services secretary in the George H.W. Bush administration, called in The New York Times for menthol to be banned as a cigarette flavoring. “Menthol flavorings not only lure children to start smoking, but they also make it harder for menthol smokers to quit,” they wrote.

Menthol, a derivative from the peppermint plant, may be best known as an ingredient in medicines such as cough drops. But many smokers are familiar with its use in cigarettes. According to the American Legacy Foundation, which advocates against tobacco use and wants a ban on menthol cigarettes, its effects include “covering up the tobacco taste and reducing the throat irritation associated with smoking, particularly among first-time users.”

The foundation said young and black smokers are especially drawn to menthol cigarettes.

“Studies have failed to provide unequivocal evidence that menthol plays a significant role in smoking initiation, addiction to nicotine or cessation,” said Dr. Brad Rodu, a professor of medicine and the endowed chairman of tobacco harm reduction research at the University of Louisville.

Still, it’s clear that menthol cigarettes are popular. Is it just a matter of personal preference? Kabbani, who has studied menthol cigarettes herself, examined the potential role of another factor — menthol’s impact in the brain — in her new review.

She wrote that new research suggests that menthol affects how cells in the brain go about the business of processing nicotine, an addictive ingredient in tobacco. Specifically, she said, the presence of menthol appears to affect the ability of nicotine to bind with “receptors” in cells.

“This is a very important scientific discovery because if menthol does alter the actions of nicotine on its target receptor in the brain, then it is very likely to contribute to nicotine addiction,” she said. “Additional studies are now necessary to test this.”

What’s next? Future research in mice can offer insight into the effects of menthol in cigarettes on pleasure in the brain, Kabbani wrote in her review. And, she wrote, research into genetic variations could offer insight into why some people are more prone to addiction to menthol cigarettes.

Rodu, the University of Louisville tobacco researcher, said the evidence doesn’t support banning menthol, especially in light of two recent studies that found that the risk of lung cancer is actually lower among those who smoke menthol cigarettes compared to smokers of other cigarettes.

The review appeared online July 23 in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


SOURCES: Nadine Kabbani, Ph.D., neuroscientist and assistant professor, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.; Brad Rodu, D.D.S., professor, medicine, and endowed chair, Tobacco Harm Reduction Research, University of Louisville, Kentucky; American Legacy Foundation website; July 23, 2013, evidence review, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; July 23, 2013, Frontiers in Pharmacology, online; July 2, 2013, The New York Times

What are your thoughts on this article?

Ohio (finally) gets with the hemp program

House panel claims Juul deliberately targeted children, teens

House panel claims Juul deliberately targeted children, teens

The company “deployed a sophisticated program to enter schools and convey its messaging directly to teenage children,” the House Oversight and Reform subcommittee claimed.

The remarks were laid out in a memo detailing the results of an investigation launched by the House panel last month. The investigation, unveiled during a hearing with Juul executives and summarized in the subsequent memo, is based on approximately 55,000 nonpublic documents that the company gave to the subcommittee and the Massachusetts attorney general.

In one instance, the investigation found documents showing that Juul operated a division that paid schools at least $10,000 to let Juul representatives have access to students during class, summer school and weekend programs for kids caught vaping in school.

The intent was to demonstrate that Juul can be an alternative to traditional cigarettes and to demonstrate how Juul is different from Big Tobacco companies.

In another example, the committee found that Juul paid $134,000 to set up a five-week summer camp for 80 children at a Baltimore charter school from grades 3 through 12.

Internal Juul emails showed company officials said they were aware their strategies to reach kids both in and outside of school were “eerily similar” to those used by large cigarette makers.

During the hearing, Juul Chief Administrative Officer Ashley Gould said the company discontinued the program in 2018 after learning about the similarities to the anti-smoking campaigns used by tobacco companies.

Juul co-founder James Monsees tried to distance himself from Big Tobacco, even though Juul is now partially owned by Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris International, which makes Marlboro cigarettes.

Democrats at the hearing blamed Juul for the massive spike in youth vaping, which federal officials have called a public health “epidemic.”

Monsees told lawmakers he never wanted the product to be used by minors.

“We never wanted any non-nicotine user, and certainly nobody underage, to ever use Juul products,” Monsees said, while acknowledging that the data show otherwise. “Our company has no higher priority than fighting” underage use.

Monsees emphasized that Juul is meant to be an alternative for adult smokers. He said that unlike tobacco companies, “we embrace appropriate regulation.”

Juul has been on the front lines of advocating to raise the age to purchase tobacco to 21.

“Put simply, Juul Labs isn’t Big Tobacco,” Monsees said.

Monsees noted that Juul has taken steps to make sure that young people are not using its product. The company has removed its flavored pods from retail stores, beefed up its age-verification processes for purchasing online and shut down its Facebook and Instagram accounts.The hearing, which was the second in two days, marked the first time Juul executives have been called to testify before Congress about the youth vaping epidemic.

“We must trace the origins that led to this epidemic, expose the health risks associated with vaping, and hold accountable anyone and everyone who knowingly put children in harm’s way,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Juul went into a ninth-grade classroom and called its device ‘totally safe,’ teens testify

Story from CNN Health

(CNN)A Juul representative repeatedly told a ninth-grade classroom that the company’s e-cigarette was “totally safe” before showing underage students the device, according to two teenagers who testified under oath to Congress on Wednesday.

The comments came at the first of two hearings organized by the House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy to “examine [Juul’s] responsibility for the youth nicotine addiction epidemic.” Company executives, including Juul’s co-founder, will testifyon Thursday.
One of the teens who testified on Wednesday, 17-year-old Caleb Mintz, said a Juul representative spoke to his class as part a “mental health [and] addiction seminar” where teachers were asked to leave the room.
The representative mentioned his connection to Juul, Mintz said, and the comments on e-cigarette safety were met with a “sigh of relief” among his classmates who were already vaping.

‘Very disturbing behavior, to say the least’

In a statement, Juul said the presentation was part of a “short-lived Education and Youth Prevention Program which was ended in September 2018 after its purpose — to educate youth on the dangers of nicotine addiction — was clearly misconstrued.”
But experts say that Juul itself contributed to epidemic-levels of vaping among teens, in part by raising nicotine levels and triggering an “arms race” of the addictive chemical.
“I believe the presenter was sending mixed messages by saying Juul was ‘totally safe’ and following up every totally safe statement with ‘but we don’t want you as customers,’ ” said Mintz. “I believe that the presenter was playing on the rebellious side of teens,” he added, “where when teens are told not to do something, they are more likely to do it.”
Mintz’s friend, 16-year-old Phillip Fuhrman, testified that he was addicted to Juul at the time of the incident, which occurred in April 2018. The two boys spoke with the Juul representative after the presentation concluded, they said, and Mintz asked what he should do if he had a friend addicted to nicotine.
Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee, asked Fuhrman, “When Caleb [Mintz] asked the presenter what he should do if he had a friend that was addicted to nicotine, was Caleb referring to you?”
“He was,” Fuhrman testified. “Since Caleb was not specific on what kind of nicotine he was addicted to, whether it was an e-cigarette or cigarettes, the speaker thought that he was talking about cigarettes, and he said that he should mention Juul to his friend.”
The product was “a safer alternative than smoking cigarettes and it would be better for the kid to use that,” the Juul representative allegedly said, according to Fuhrman. “He didn’t use it but he did take it out and show it to us,” Fuhrman added.
Krishnamoorthi sighed before calling the company’s actions “very disturbing behavior, to say the least.” He summarized the testimony, saying “a person connected to Juul pulled out a Juul device to demonstrate its safety to teenagers and then lied about the product being quote-unquote totally safe.”
The Juul representative also “mentioned that the FDA was about to come out and say that Juul was 99% safer than cigarettes, and he said that that would happen very soon, and that it was in FDA approval while the talk was going on,” according to Fuhrman.
In the year since the incident, Juul has not received FDA approval as a smoking cessation device.

‘Under the guise of education’

Phillip’s mother, Dorian Fuhrman, testified that after her son started to vape, he “changed kind of overnight. He started spending a lot of time in his room in the dark. He became moody. We had a very contentious relationship.”
She worked with Mintz’s mother, Meredith Berkman, to start a group called Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes after the classroom incident.
Berkman testified that “Juul sent a representative to talk to our kids about its product under the guise of education.” She said an outside group had organized the presentation at her son’s school, but “the school had no idea that the outside group had brought a Juul representative into the school.”
She said she believes the outside group “was naive, definitely, but in good faith.” Berkman said she called the group and a staffer answered the phone. Berkman testified that the staffer, when asked about the presentation, said she had been researching anti-Juul education and came across the name of Juul employee listed online as the company’s youth prevention coordinator.
When reached by the staffer, the Juul employee said she had “the perfect person” and sent the Juul representative into the school, according to Berkman.

‘Human guinea pigs for the Juul experiment’

Later in Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat, told Berkman that “as a mother, I can sense your frustration. … I just want you to know you have the truth on your side. And just be stronger for that.”
Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley later echoed those comments, telling Berkman that “we thank you for your fierceness and your advocacy.”
“If we don’t take action now,” Berkman said in the hearing, “we face an entire generation of kids addicted to nicotine, who are human guinea pigs for the Juul experiment overall.”
Also at the hearing was public health analyst Rae O’Leary, who represented the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. She said Juul “targeted American Indians by exploiting tribal sovereignty, which will eventually negatively impact American Indian youth.”
She recounted a visit by Juul representatives earlier this year in which they offered the tribal council a “switching program” and free starter kits as part of an implied harm reduction effort and public health study. The tribe was “unfairly exploited,” O’Leary said.
Republican Rep. Michael Cloud said at the hearing that e-cigarettes may have a role in smoking cessation, but said “we do need to be clear about one thing. No one wants kids to use tobacco, no one wants kids vaping, and no one wants vaping companies to target children with advertisements.”
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Pressley said that “many of Juul’s tactics seem to be right out of the Big Tobacco playbook,” pointing out that for decades, tobacco companies targeted black communities, especially with menthol cigarettes.
“It’s extremely disturbing,” she said. “We’ve been here before. We don’t need a bunch of studies. The only studies we need are the millions of casualties that are behind us and that we run the risk of seeing ahead of us.”

Facebook and Instagram Updates Policy to Restrict Tobacco Content

Facebook and Instagram Updates Policy to Restrict Tobacco Content

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Facebook and Instagram Updates Policy to Restrict Tobacco Content

If you’re a tobacco manufacturer, retailer or consumer, be aware–Facebook and Instagram is changing its policies to make it harder to promote and post certain content related to tobacco products going forward.

On Wednesday, CNN broke the news that Facebook was unveiling a new policy that would prohibit all private sales, trades, transfers and gifting of tobacco and alcohol products on Facebook and Instagram. Social media platforms and their promotion of tobacco-related content has been under scrutiny in recent months, mostly brought on by the growing concern over the popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping and its impact on minors and teenagers [read more here]. This year, health advocacy groups have focused on social media and its role in promoting tobacco use. Health groups have pushed for various social media platforms to update their policies to directly impact tobacco content on their sites, making it less visible and thus less appealing to potential under-aged users [read more here]. YouTube has updated its policy to demonetize tobacco-related users and content [read more here] and the FDA and FTC recently cracked down on and sent warning letters about social media influencers promoting e-cigarette and vapor products without the proper warning statements [read more here].

Now, Facebook and Instagram are also updating their policies which will have an impact on not just tobacco businesses but consumers as well. Facebook, a social media company that also owns Instagram, places new, stricter limits on tobacco related content as it makes it harder for companies to use its social media accounts to sell, trade, transfer or gift tobacco products. Another change that will tobacco businesses on social media is that going forward, brands that post content related to the sale or transfer of these products will have to restrict their pages and content to those 18 years or older. The new policy applies to any Facebook group created to sell tobacco products (and alcohol products) and according to a spokesperson’s response to a CNN report, the social network is currently reaching out to group administrators to alert them of the changes. Failure to follow the new policy will lead to group and page removals.

This new policy is an extension of a policy that’s already in place that prohibits the sale of tobacco and alcohol products in Facebook Marketplace but this is the first time Facebook has made moves to extend its ban to organic content, typically generated by private users and not just businesses. Facebook, and several other social media platforms, already prohibits any tobacco-related content from being promoted on its platform, and on Instagram, through paid advertising. Facebook has said that it will “use a combination of technology, human review and reports from our community to find and remove any content that violates these policies.”

The policy also targets social media influencers, who are often used by companies to help promote a product through some sort of payment or barter through their personal accounts. Under the new policy, influencers that are paid to promote products that contain nicotine will still be allowed to post content that relates to tobacco and vapor products–for now. These posts will not have to be age restricted but Facebook is looking at updating its influencer policy and is working with industry and regulatory bodies on potential revisions.


Adjusting to Changing Tobacco Trends

Adjusting to Changing Tobacco Trends
By Evan Grossman, Pixotine Products – 07/22/2019

The tobacco industry is changing at a rapid pace. Cigarette sales are declining year after year, while vape and smokeless products have been on the rise. Now, there are new products out there that fit into the growing “ANDS” (alternative nicotine delivery systems) category, such as nicotine toothpicks, pouches and dip (no tobacco leaf present in any of these).

Modernizing categories and planograms will be a necessity for convenience retail chains looking to hold onto revenue.

While consumers are quitting cigarettes in droves, most would agree they are not quitting nicotine. Many consumers switched from cigarettes to ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) such as Logic, blu and Juul. Other consumers have moved into smokeless tobacco products such as dip and spitless snus.

The rise of smokeless tobacco options and ENDS products in the past 10 years is a clear indicator that consumers aren’t quitting their nicotine altogether, but instead they have become open to finding their nicotine in other products.

Some of these products I like to call “ANDS” products. These are non-combustible alternative nicotine delivery systems that would otherwise not be able to be categorized into current and obsolete product groupings. ANDS are a fairly new subcategory of other tobacco products (OTP) and are increasingly gaining customers. People are tending to move away from tobacco leaf products, both combustible and non-combustible, and move to products that deliver nicotine.

Nicotine toothpicks and pouches are very similar. Both are flavored oral nicotine products that did away with the tobacco leaf. The toothpicks are infused with nicotine and food-grade flavorings, while the pouches are tea bags that are filled with powdered nicotine and food-grade flavorings.

Another ANDS product is nicotine dip that is made using mint leaves instead of tobacco leaves.  Nicotine dips are made with nicotine applied to chopped mint leaves. They can be used just like traditional tobacco dips like Skoal, Copenhagen or Grizzly.

Are ‘ANDS’ Right for Your Business?

So, should your business sell ANDS? It all comes down to whether your convenience store or chain is positioned to make the investment to secure customers for the present and future.

In discussions with CEOs of many of these ANDS manufacturers, they say consumers are constantly asking them where they can buy the product. Store owners should embrace this and use it to their advantage. A retailer can acquire new customers just by carrying a product that is newer to distribution. This is especially true when the products being considered have already started to take sales away from cigarettes, moist snuff and ENDS products.

By adding new SKUs to their tobacco categories, retailers will need to eliminate others or increase the real estate space for their tobacco products section as a whole.

When choosing new product lines in the ANDS category, a category manager should evaluate a manufacturer or a brand based on such factors as sell-through, branding, customer experience, customer adoption, marketing, and point-of-sale (POS) merchandising support.

Behind-the-scenes items that are also crucial toward the long-term success of the store(s) and the brands they carry include Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance, quality control, shelf life, liability insurance and vendor/retailer support.

We already know that Juul has emerged as the leader in the ENDS category. Which ANDS products are in line to solidify a spot on your shelf? Which ANDS manufacturers and brands meet the qualifications stated in the previous paragraph?

With sell-through and compliance being the most important direct and indirect items of importance, there are certain brands and products leading the pack on this newly paved road. Here are three types of ANDS that hold promise for the convenience channel:

Nicotine Pouches

Nicotine pouches have created a nice following throughout the country — both online and in stores. Nicotine pouches function just like spitless snus. Look for products that have sell-through and have been on the market prior to the FDA’s deeming rule date of Aug. 8, 2016. For tobacco products on the market by this date, the FDA allows them to legally sell while the manufacturers meet certain deadlines and guidelines that will eventually lead up to a Pre-Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) submission in August 2021/2022. Within a year of that PMTA submission, the FDA should complete its review and approve or deny the manufacturer to continue selling the product.

Nicotine Toothpicks

While nicotine toothpicks might seem like a new idea, they have been around since 2013. In the toothpick space, only a few known brands were on the market by the FDA deadline. When merchandised and branded properly, nicotine toothpicks see sell-through. They also function as an upsell that increases a store’s average order value. Avoid investing in a brand if it has not met the requirements in the deeming rule, such as submitting ingredient listings and labels to the FDA. The facilities and products should be FDA registered as well. Look for a brand that has compliance and quality control that are on point. Toothpicks are one of the few products being used by smokers, dippers and vapers alike.

Nicotine Dip

Nicotine dip is another product making its way into stores. I like the idea. Why have tobacco leaves pressed up against your gums when you can have mint leaves and nicotine instead? I can see these products leading to the abolishment of traditional tobacco leaf dips.

In the end, consumers want to feel empowered to make a choice. Nobody goes to the ice cream parlor that only carries three flavors when the parlor across the street has 15 flavors plus 10 different topping options.

With the guidelines and requirements mentioned earlier, choose one to three items from each of the three ANDS subcategories (pouches, toothpicks and dip). Find products that aren’t selling well on your shelves and remove them.

The way I see it, ANDS are the future of the category. The status quo has changed. Non-combustible ANDS products should be part of your offering in order to solidify your store’s ability to sustain long-term growth and success.

Evan Grossman is an entrepreneur and industry advocate. In 2013, he founded Pixotine Products, launching Pixotine Nicotine Toothpicks. Before founding Pixotine Products, Grossman co-founded Trans World Jets in 2011, a jet charter consulting and contracting business.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News

Folks this has been a part of the focus at TAZ Marketing and Consulting Group for the past 15 years. Looking forward to your comments and experiences.

Claim that Vaping Causes Heart Attacks is Completely Debunked

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Claim that Vaping Causes Heart Attacks is Completely Debunked

A study published last month in the Journal of the American Heart Association electronic cigarette use concluded that vaping is a cause of heart attacks, raising the risk of having a heart attack about two-fold. One of the co-authors publicized the study on his blog under the title “More evidence that e-cigs cause heart attacks.”

This was a cross-sectional study using data from the baseline survey of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study collected in 2013-2014. The investigators examined the relationship between respondents reporting that they ever had a heart attack and that they currently vaped. They found that people who vape were more likely to report ever having had a heart attack in the past.

The problem with drawing a causal conclusion from this cross-sectional study is that there is no way to know which came first: the vaping or the heart attack. As I have previously argued, it is entirely possible that most of the vapers who reported having had a heart attack were people who experienced a heart attack and then began vaping in an effort to stay off of cigarettes. If this is the case, then it is not the vaping that is causing the heart attacks; instead, it is really the heart attacks “causing” the vaping. In epidemiology, we call this “reverse causation,” and it is a common limitation of cross-sectional studies, especially when they do not ask about the time course of exposures and outcomes.

Based on what I saw as a likely possibility of reverse causation and on the inability of the study to determine whether the vaping actually preceded the heart attacks, I argued that the investigators went too far in their conclusion and that, in fact, the study does not provide evidence that vaping causes heart attacks.

The Rest of the Story

I was wrong. I have to admit it …

… I was wrong.

Specifically, I had argued that “there is no way to know which came first: the vaping or the heart attack.”

However, Dr. Brad Rodu — a professor at the University of Louisville — noticed that in fact, we do know which came first.


Because the PATH survey actually asked respondents not just whether they had ever experienced a heart attack, but when they had the heart attack.

And similarly, the survey asked respondents not just whether they vaped, but when they started vaping.

So Dr. Rodu was able to analyze the same PATH data that the study authors used. Lo and behold, he found that the majority of the 38 vapers who reported having ever had a heart attack experienced that heart attack before starting to vape. In fact, he found that on average, “the heart attacks preceded first e-cigarette use by almost a decade.”

There are two major problems here.

The first is that the unsupported, and now debunked, conclusions of the study have influenced many policy makers in their decision to ban the sale of e-cigarettes (while leaving real cigarettes on the shelves, which do cause heart attacks). For example, before voting to ban the sale of e-cigarettes in San Francisco, city council members were told that e-cigarettes are associated with heart attacks.

The second problem is the question of why the study investigators failed to look at whether the vaping preceded the heart attacks, even though they had the information in the survey to make that determination. It would have been easy for them to determine that the majority of the vapers who reported having had a heart attack actually experienced the heart attack before they even started vaping.

The rest of the story is that this new information calls into question not only the conclusions of the research, but also the objectivity of the researchers.

With local, state, and federal policy makers and regulators all considering legislation to regulate vaping, it would be damaging for their decisions to be informed by the now-debunked conclusion that vaping causes heart attacks. The problem is that this conclusion has already been spread widely through the media, and it is very difficult to retract information once it is already out there.



Wanted to share as informational.