AWMA Speaks Out on Menthol Debate

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AWMA Speaks Out on Menthol Debate


FAIRFAX, Va. -- As a possible menthol ban continues to hang in the balance, the American Wholesale Marketers Association (AWMA) weighed in on the issue.

In a letter earlier this month, the association provided comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outlining concerns about efforts to restrict or ban menthol cigarettes. The FDA's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requested public comment on the agency's consideration of proposals calling for restricting or banning menthol cigarettes.

AWMA previously provided the FDA with comments regarding this issue when the agency first requested public feedback in 2010.

AWMA distributor members represent more than $85 billion in U.S. convenience product sales and its associate members include manufacturers, brokers, retailers and others allied to the convenience product industry. More than 65 percent of the association's members business involves tobacco-related products and many of its members have small, family-owned businesses, wrote AWMA President and CEO Scott Ramminger.

"Our primary concern with any FDA initiative to regulate menthol in cigarettes is the growing problem with contraband product. We are concerned that unreasonable regulation of this product -- including a ban on menthol in cigarettes -- would have significant unintended consequences," he said. "As you know, illicit trade in tobacco is widespread and these illegal markets will only become worse if the agency imposes overly restrictive regulations on menthol or bans these products."

According to Ramminger, a ban or overregulation of on menthol cigarettes would push the products "underground" and have an adverse effect on efforts to prevent underage smoking.

"Trafficking of these products hurts all legitimate manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers who are faced with unfair competition in the form of lower prices offered by these illegal sales and the increased criminal activity puts these same stakeholders at risk in terms of safety as well," he said.