Menthol Cigarette Cessation Rates Lower for Blacks, Hispanics, Low-Income Whites, Study Finds
People who smoke menthol-flavored cigarettes have more difficulty trying to quit than those who smoke non-mentholated cigarettes, particularly low-income and minority individuals, according to a study published in the February issue of International Journal of Clinical Practice, Reuters Health reports. For the study, lead researcher Kunal Gandhi of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey examined 1,688 people who sought treatment to stop smoking over a four-year period. Eighty-one percent of black participants smoked menthol-flavored cigarettes, compared with two-thirds of Hispanics and one-third of whites.
Black and Hispanic menthol cigarette smokers were one-third as likely to have quit smoking after one month as those who smoked non-menthol cigarettes, according to the study. They also had lower long-term cessation rates. Overall, menthol smokers were less likely to have quit after six months.
Among whites, there were no differences in cessation rates for those who smoked menthol and those who smoked non-menthol cigarettes. However, unemployed whites who smoked menthol cigarettes had lower cessation rates at one month than whites smoking other cigarettes.
Gandhi said, "This study suggests that people who smoke mentholated cigarettes -- particularly those with a low disposable income -- may inhale more nicotine and toxins per cigarette," which in turn might create a stronger addiction to nicotine. Previous research has found that people who smoke menthol-flavored cigarettes tend to have higher levels of nicotine in the blood than other smokers. The menthol flavoring masks the harshness of nicotine and other tobacco toxins, according to Reuters (Norton, Reuters Health, 1/21).
An abstract of the study is available online.