An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration is slated to deliver their final report on March 23, where they are expected to make a recommendation as to the fate of menthol cigarettes. Before that decision is handed out, however, two cigarette manufacturers launched a â€œpreemptive strikeâ€ of sorts, and filed a lawsuit against the FDA.
According to a report by Reuters, Lorillard, Inc., manufacturer of top-selling cigarette Newport, and Reynolds American Inc., manufacturer of Kool, sued the FDA on charges of â€œconflicts of interest and bias among membersâ€ of the FDA advisory panel.
Information from Euromonitor International revealed that menthol cigarettes make up roughly 30 percent of annual cigarette sales in the United States, pegged at more than $83 billion. In 2009, the FDA was given regulatory power over tobacco products through a law. This led to a ban on the use of chocolate, fruit, and other flavorings for cigarettes, as these are said to be attractive to children and encourage them to start smoking.
The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, pointed out that the three members of the FDA advisory panel for tobacco had â€œsevere financial and appearance conflicts of interest and associated biases.â€
The advisers, according to the lawsuit, have received research funding, or payment for consultation work, from manufacturers of smoking-cessation products.
In addition, two other members of a panel subcommittee were also accused of having biases, as they have allegedly served as paid expert witnesses against tobacco companies, according to the lawsuit.