WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. government panel is calling for banning menthol cigarettes, saying they are more addictive and entice young smokers.
Dr. Mark Stuart Clanton, a member of the Food and Drug Administration's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, said, "Menthol cigarettes have an adverse impact on the public health in the United States."
The committee delivered its report Friday, the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal said. It concluded that "the availability of menthol cigarettes increases experimentation and regular smoking."
Menthol cigarettes make up about a quarter of the U.S. market, the committee said, but almost half of menthol smokers are 12 to 17 years old and more than 80 percent are African-Americans.
The FDA already has outlawed cigarettes with fruit, candy and spice flavors and is forcing bigger and more dire warnings on packs, effective October 2012.
Anti-smoking advocates urged the FDA to move quickly to ban menthols. Executives of the Lorillard and R.J. Reynolds tobacco makers disputed the findings.