By Megan R. Wilson - 04/15/13 08:13 PM EDT
The Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, a group of researchers, academics, non-profits and government health agencies, filed a citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week asking for an investigation into menthol cigarettes.
The petition claims adding menthol to cigarettes masks the bite of hot smoke and makes them more addictive.
Menthol cigarettes are popular with minorities and young people. While less than one-fourth of all white smokers used menthol cigarettes, more than 80 percent of African-Americans smoked the product, according to the groups.
Nearly half of smokers aged 12 to 17 said they smoked menthols, while only 32 percent of smokers above the age of 26 reported using the products, according to the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium.
Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, costing the country $96 billion in health costs per year.