Menthol Cigarette Lung Cancer Lawsuits
Most people think that menthol is just a mint flavor in cigarettes. The truth is that menthol is a dangerous chemical additive in popular cigarette brands such as Newport, Kool and Salem. Menthol is one of the most dangerous chemicals added to cigarettes because: (1) menthol masks the harshness of cigarette smoke which makes it easier for teenage smokers to inhale the cigarettes into their lungs and become addicted; (2) menthol interacts with nicotine in the brain to make cigarettes more addictive and more difficult to quit. For these reasons, the World Health Organization (WHO) and an advisory committee for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that menthol cigarettes be banned. Recently, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to ban menthol cigarettes.
Increased Addiction from Menthol Cigarettes
The FDA recently assembled an advisory committee to evaluate the scientific evidence relating to the dangers of menthol in cigarettes. The FDA advisory committee concluded that menthol cigarettes are more addictive that regular non-menthol cigarettes. Specifically, the advisory committee stated: “the data indicate that menthol in cigarettes is likely associated with greater addiction. Menthol smokers show greater signs of nicotine dependence and are less likely to successfully quit smoking.” The group also concluded that menthol in cigarettes starts addiction in teenagers by providing an anesthetic that numbs the throat and makes it easier for young smokers to progress into addicted daily smokers. Scientists have found that menthol interacts with nicotine in the brain to increase addiction with the two chemicals (nicotine and menthol) having a “synergistic” effect.
Lung Cancer from Menthol Cigarettes
Over 100,000 people die from lung cancer each year in the United States. Cigarettes smoking is by far the leading cause of lung cancer, with other toxins such as asbestos also playing an important role in some cases. Menthol cigarettes account for a significant percentage of overall cigarette smoking in the United States and thousands of menthol smokers and former menthol smokers are diagnosed every year with lung cancer. When diagnosed at advanced stages, lung cancer is usually incurable with poor rates of survival within five years of diagnosis. Menthol cigarettes pose special dangers in causing lung cancer because of the way in which menthol initiates addiction in teen smokers and increases addiction throughout the smoker’s lifetime. Cigarette manufacturers have intentionally added menthol to tobacco (often spraying it on the tobacco leaf during the manufacturing process) knowing that menthol cigarettes are typically started by kids who will commonly become addicted smokers and face a high risk of lung cancer and premature death.
Government Action Against Menthol Cigarettes
Worries about the dangers of menthol cigarettes are serious and widespread, so much so that the government has recently taken important action. On April 28, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its proposal to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes. Earlier, in 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act allowed states to have more control over what types of cigarettes are sold within their borders. Several states took steps to protect their residents, especially vulnerable children, from menthol cigarettes.
States that have taken specific legal action relating to flavored or menthol cigarettes include:
- Massachusetts: Restrictions on flavored tobacco product sales including menthol cigarettes.
- New Jersey: Bans on flavored e-cigarette sales.
- New York: Bans on flavored e-cigarette sales.
- Rhode Island: Bans on flavored e-cigarette sales.
- California: Bans on flavored e-cigarette and menthol cigarette sales.
- Maryland: Restrictions on flavored e-cigarette sales.
- Utah: Restrictions on flavored e-cigarette sales.
- Maine: Bans on flavored non-premium cigar sales.
Menthol Cigarette Lawsuits
There have been successful lawsuits arising from people who developed lung cancer from menthol cigarettes. Our law firm (Levy Konigsberg) recently served as lead counsel in a menthol cigarette lung cancer lawsuit in Boston which resulted in a $43.1 million jury verdict. In this landmark case (Summerlin), we presented evidence that Mr. Summerlin became addicted to menthol cigarettes as a teenager in the 1950s, before warnings appeared on cigarette packs. The jury found that the tobacco company, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, was negligent in failing to warn, committed fraud, and defectively designed its menthol cigarettes due to the high level of menthol and nicotine. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with lung cancer or another tobacco-related illness as a result of addiction to menthol cigarettes, we will evaluate your potential lawsuit free of charge. Our attorneys will not recover any attorney’s fees in your case unless we recover money for you. Contact our experienced and compassionate attorneys today by calling the number on this page, filling out a website form or having a live chat now.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are menthol cigarettes safer than other cigarettes?
No. In fact, menthol cigarettes are even more dangerous than non-menthol cigarettes. This is because menthol is an anesthetic that numbs the throat and makes it easier for young smokers to deeply inhale cigarette smoke. Menthol not only facilitates addiction in teenage smokers, but studies demonstrate that the menthol in cigarette smoke increases nicotine addiction. These are primary reasons why the FDA has proposed a ban on menthol cigarettes.
Are menthol cigarettes less addictive than other cigarettes?
No. Studies show just the opposite. Some people might think menthol cigarettes are safer or less addictive because of the minty, cool taste. This reminds some people of a cough drop that people will take to soothe their throat. But the menthol in cigarette smoke simply masks the harshness of cigarette smoke and make smoking even more addictive and dangerous.
Are menthol cigarettes targeted to certain demographics?
Yes. Many studies have shown that the Tobacco Industry targeted African-American and Hispanic smokers with menthol cigarette advertising and promotions. As a result of this racial targeting, up to 90% of black smokers have become addicted to menthol cigarettes. This is a much higher percentage of menthol cigarette use as compared to the national average.
Will a menthol cigarette ban help save lives?
The FDA estimates that banning menthol cigarettes nationwide could save the lives of roughly 6,000 black smokers each year for the next several decades. To opposed a menthol ban, the Tobacco Industry has funded a number of minority groups who have argued that a menthol ban could disproportionately put black smokers in danger of criminal and police violence, as well as higher rates of incarceration. However, it is important for the public to know that the tobacco industry is funding many of these groups opposing the menthol ban and that police reform and menthol cigarettes are separate issues.
Are corporations in support of a menthol cigarette ban?
Although there has been a significant public outcry to ban or restrict menthol cigarette sales, there has not been much word or support from corporations that sell those products. Specifically, Walgreens was recently met with a false advertising class action lawsuit that claimed the company hid product messaging that warned of menthol cigarette risks.
If menthol cigarettes are banned, will it be illegal to smoke them?
No, the FDA has announced that it cannot enforce any sort of penalty against consumers who smoke menthol cigarettes, even if they become federally banned. The important step, however, it to stop the sale of menthol cigarettes in the United States. If they can no longer be legally purchased, their sale and use in the United States will eventually become extinct, with many lives saved.
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