was conducted by researchers at the University of California San Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science.
. Additionally, this cooling sensation can allow smoke to be inhaled deeper and held for long which can result in greater absorption of nicotine per puff.
“This may accelerate physical dependence on nicotine leading youth to smoke more often,” said Eric Leas, PhD, assistant professor at UC, San Diego, Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science and lead author.
Using data from the nationally representative Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) longitudinal study undertaken by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the FDA Center for Tobacco Products under contract with Westat, researchers compared the use of menthol-flavored and nonmenthol cigarettes.
For youth who smoked consuming menthol cigarettes was associated with 2.8 additional days of smoking in the past 30 days, 38% higher risk of being a frequent smoker and an 8% higher nicotine dependency.
Youth who switched from menthol cigarettes to unflavored cigarettes smoked 3.6 fewer days over 30 days had a 47% lower risk of being a frequent smoker and had a 3% lower nicotine dependency.
About Menthol Cigarettes
Menthol is a naturally occurring chemical found in the oils of mint but it is also synthetically produced in labs. In addition, to the minty taste, menthol has pain-relieving and numbing properties.
Menthol was first added to tobacco in the 1920s and 1930s. Today, nearly 18.6 million current smokers use menthol cigarettes in this country.
Marketing of menthol products has been targeted towards Black and LGBTQ+ individuals and low-income communities. Approximately 85% of Black smokers consume menthol cigarettes compared to 48% of Latinos, 41% of Asians and 30% of white smokers.
The FDA reported menthol cigarette use declined among white youth but did not decrease among Black or Latino youth.
Moving Towards a Menthol Ban
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the US.
Tobacco use is associated with 1 in 5 deaths. More than 90% of current smokers started smoking as teenagers and it is estimated that 80% of youths who used tobacco began with flavored tobacco products.
Some studies project that banning menthol could avert as many as 633,000 deaths. These findings suggest that the addition of menthol to cigarettes is increasing smoking frequency and nicotine dependency among youth.
Menthol cigarettes are also making it harder for them to progress toward quitting. These results provide strong support for the FDA-proposed ban on menthol flavoring in cigarettes to protect our youth.