A federal appeals court has ruled that tobacco companies had no basis to challenge a Food and Drug Administration report on menthol cigarettes, which the industry alleged was written by experts with conflicts of interest.

The decision by a three-judge panel overturns a lower court ruling that barred the FDA from using the report and ordered the agency to reform its committee of tobacco advisers.

The committee's 2011 report concluded that menthol flavoring has led to increased smoking rates, particularly among teens, African Americans and those with low incomes. The report said removing the flavoring would make it easier for some smokers to quit.

Cigarette makers Lorillard Inc. and Reynolds American Inc. sued the agency, alleging conflicts of interest by several members who had testified against tobacco companies in court.

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