Menthol or mint-flavoured cigarettes may pose a greater risk to health than standard ones, US authorities have warned.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that although there is "little evidence" to suggest that menthol cigarettes are more toxic than non-menthol ones, the mint flavour of menthol masks the harshness of tobacco, making it easier to get addicted and harder to quit.
"Menthol cigarettes raise critical public health questions," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A Hamburg in an FDA statement.
Until Wednesday, the FDA has taken no public action on the topic for more than two years, 'Washington Post' report.
Given the long wait, some tobacco-control advocates said the decision to seek more input was too timid even as they called the FDA's findings a step in the right direction.
"There is a real public-health cost to this delay," said Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California at San Francisco.
"But better late than never. If FDA proceeds logically based on these conclusions, they're going to have to ban menthol," Glantz added.
The FDA stopped short of proposing specific restrictions or a ban on menthol despite those findings, instead saying it would solicit public input for the next two months before deciding how to proceed, the report said.
That could probably mean that any potential regulations remain months, if not years, from becoming reality, it said.
"The FDA is committed to a science-based approach that addresses the public health issues raised by menthol cigarettes, and public input will help us make more informed decisions about how best to tackle this important issue moving forward," Hamburg said.