Lorillard Gears Up for Menthol Fight

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- As the Food and Drug Administration continues its review of menthol cigarettes, Lorillard Inc. has taken to cyberspace as it gears up for an impending decision. An FDA tobacco advisory group is expected to make a recommendation on the future of menthol cigarettes in March, and Lorillard’s top-selling brand is Newport.

As part of a multimedia campaign, the locally based tobacco manufacturer has bought several menthol-related domain names, including MentholKillsMinorities.com, MentholAddictsYouth.com and FDAMustBanMenthol.com, as The Wall Street Journal reported.

On one side of the debate, anti-smoking groups contend that menthol is enticing to black smokers and adolescent smokers. However, Lorillard argues that menthol cigarettes are not any more addictive than regular cigarettes. According to U.S.-government survey data, 80 percent of African-American smokers prefer menthol cigarettes, and Newport is a favorite among those smokers, the Journal reported.

Lorillard has also brought its message to Twitter and Facebook. A company spokesman told the Journal that the company "has taken vigorous steps to communicate with all who will listen to our point of view," adding that thousands of jobs are at stake. Opponents to a menthol ban also fear it would create a black market for menthol cigarettes.

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