RALEIGH, N.C. -- That cool, throat-numbing sensation some smokers find in their cigarettes could go the way of other products the federal government has deemed dangerous.
Menthol, a natural compound found in the mint plant, soothes throats and helps tame an achy tummy. But in cigarettes, some health experts argue, it makes the poison that is tobacco go down more smoothly, tricking the youngest and most foolhardy smokers.
Last year, Congress passed far-reaching tobacco regulations that, among other things, banned chocolate- or strawberry-flavored cigarettes, saying they lured kids to smoke by dressing up cigarettes as candy.
But Congress passed on regulating menthol cigarettes, which account for one-third of cigarettes sold in the United States. Instead, it called for a study and more discussion by the Food and Drug Administration.