Citrus cigarettes leave a sour taste in the mouth of the JCTC

Thursday, August 15, 2019

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Dear Editor,

It is with great concern that the Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control (JCTC) notes Carreras Limited's plan to launch islandwide an upgraded version of its mentholated cigarette brand which includes a double capsule that will allow smokers to switch to a citrus flavour.

Introducing more flavoured cigarettes in Jamaica at this time is alarming, given that many jurisdictions elsewhere are moving towards banning flavoured tobacco products altogether. In July, legislators in Albany county in the United States tabled a vote to ban flavoured tobacco products; flavours such as 'Unicorn Poop' are deemed as being marketed directly to children. New Jersey already has restrictions on flavoured cigarettes, and there are bans on flavoured tobacco products in the European Union, Brazil, Canada, Chile, and Ethiopia.

Managing director of Carreras Limited Marcus Steele, in the preface to the company's first-quarter report, stated that the new double capsule not only boosts freshness, but allows the consumer to switch to experience a citrus flavour.

It is well documented that menthol flavouring in cigarettes is intended to mask the harshness, bitterness and irritation of tobacco. Of particular concern is that there is a perception that menthol tobacco products are less harmful. It is at this juncture that we ask the public to be particularly aware and beware!

According to a 2018 World Health Organization report, menthol cigarette smokers show greater signs of nicotine dependence, are less likely to successfully quit than non-menthol smokers, and have a higher rate of relapse. In addition, a study published in February 2019 by the National Institute of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders showed that a genetic variant found only in people of African descent significantly increases their preference for cigarettes containing menthol. This data should be noted with concern given that the Jamaican population is 76 per cent individuals of African descent.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is currently preparing draft comprehensive tobacco legislation, advancing the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013, which would place greater restrictions on the operations of the local tobacco industry, and, more importantly, help to protect the health and welfare of Jamaicans from the ravages of tobacco use, including lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and chronic pulmonary disease. We ask also that Jamaicans be reminded that whether cigarettes be flavoured with menthol or citrus, smoking kills!

Aggrey Irons

Chairman

Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control

tcproject@heartfoundationja.org


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