Cigarettes that are flavored with menthol are called menthol cigarettes. Menthol originates from mint plants and makes the mouth and lips feel cool and fresh, even when smoking. In some brands, the tip is infused with menthol and in other brands, the tobacco is laced with menthol. About 27% of the cigarettes purchased in the United States are menthol flavored, according to a Federal Trade Commission Report. This number has risen over the years, even though smoking has declined.
Menthol cigarettes have been in the United States for quite some time. In fact, the first ones were created in 1924 by Spud Brand; however, they were not heavily marketed until 1927 under the catch phrase, “Menthol Cooled.” Since the 1920s, numerous companies have sold menthol brands of cigarettes: Kool®, Salem®, Newport®, Marlboro Menthol®, and Camel Menthol® are the top sellers.
The cigarette companies are always looking for new ways to get people to try their products. For example, in August 2008, Camel® came out with a new kind of menthol cigarette — Camel Menthol Crush®. The concept is that smokers can have a regular cigarette or they can crush a blue ball filled with menthol and convert that add menthol to the cigarette in an instant.
There is always controversy surrounding cigarettes, and menthol cigarettes are not exempt. People who advocate for tougher laws on smoking and cigarettes are pushing for a ban on menthol as a flavoring. However, cigarette companies say the menthol flavoring is simply a matter of preference for the smoker.
In addition, it is debated whether the cigarette companies targeted “new smokers” by modifying the amount in menthol in the cigarettes. This has lead to a debate about whether the companies were targeting adolescents as the “new smokers”. If it were true, it may be against the Master Settlement Agreement which protects youths from being marketed, whether directly or indirectly.
There are also rumors about menthol cigarettes. For example, it is rumored that they contain fiberglass which cause the smokers mouth, throat, and lungs to have miniature cuts throughout, thereby giving the cool sensation. This has been proven false. Although smoking is hazardous to anyone’s health, fiberglass is not used in menthol cigarettes. Any cool sensation is the result of the menthol itself.