WASHINGTON – In a sign that the nation’s cigarette makers are still confident of their political muscle, the industry gave a collective shrug Friday after a federal advisory committee effectively urged regulators to consider a ban on sales of menthol-flavored cigarettes.

Tobacco company stock prices actually rose after the committee released its report, which concluded that “removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States.”

The advisory panel laid out a detailed critique of the special dangers posed by menthols, including evidence that they are a significant factor in the rise of smoking among adolescents and that the flavoring facilitates addiction in young smokers.

But the panel’s determinations are not binding on the Food and Drug Administration, which will decide what if any action to take. And the tobacco companies are expected to marshal potent political and legal resources to delay any new restrictions for years to come.

There is potentially strong congressional opposition to a sweeping new regulatory push by the government, especially in the GOP-controlled House, where a majority of Republicans voted against the 2009 legislation granting the FDA authority to regulate tobacco, said Michael Siegel, a Boston University expert on the public health consequences of smoking.

And President Obama may be reluctant to take on another controversial issue at a time when he is fighting to defend his signature health care overhaul and engaged in difficult negotiations over the federal deficit and other issues.

“The last thing he needs, politically, is government telling tobacco companies what to put into cigarettes,” Siegel said.

While the FDA emphasizes its reliance on science in decision-making, it is not impervious to political headwinds. And it is currently struggling to get more money from Congress to meet its far-flung obligations for testing new drugs, monitoring pharmaceuticals already on the market and protecting the nation’s food supply.

There is also concern over losing tax revenue if cigarette sales decline, as well as over the possibility that a black market would develop.

In crafting the 2009 tobacco law, Congress called for a ban on candy, fruit, spice and other flavorings in cigarettes because of their potential allure to young smokers. Menthol flavoring was not banned because declaring nearly one-third of the cigarette market illegal was thought to be too disruptive and politically unpalatable.

Menthol cigarettes also have an awkward racial dimension: They are preferred by 80 percent of black smokers, and spokesmen for several black civic groups have stepped forward to assert that a ban would unfairly target black consumers.

Niger Innis, of the Congress of Racial Equality, a civil rights organization, said the FDA should educate people about the hazards of smoking, but shouldn’t worry “about protecting black folk from themselves.”

The tobacco companies are expected to pull out all the stops to block or delay FDA action.

A ban on menthol could foreshadow an effort to restrict cigarettes’ content of nicotine — the addictive component of tobacco — “and that’s what the industry is really afraid of,” according to Robert Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford University, who has testified as an expert witness in litigation against tobacco firms.

As a result of all these negative factors, many analysts believe the FDA will not impose a ban, although it may take other action such as stronger marketing restrictions aimed at reducing access for young smokers or requiring reformulation of menthol cigarettes.