Do Smokers of Menthol Cigarettes Find It Harder to Quit Smoking?

Department of Public Health Sciences & Cancer Institute, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033-0850, USA.
Nicotine & Tobacco Research (Impact Factor: 3.3). 12/2010; 12 Suppl 2(Supplement 2):S102-9. DOI: 10.1093/ntr/ntq166
Source: PubMed


Menthol cigarette smokers may find it harder to quit smoking than smokers of nonmenthol cigarettes.
We conducted a systematic review of published studies examining the association between menthol cigarette smoking and cessation. Electronic databases and reference lists were searched to identify studies published through May 2010, and results were tabulated.
Ten studies were located that reported cessation outcomes for menthol and nonmenthol smokers. Half of the studies found evidence that menthol smoking is associated with lower odds of cessation, while the other half found no such effects. The pattern of results in these studies suggest that the association between smoking menthol cigarettes and difficulty quitting is stronger in (a) racial/ethnic minority populations, (b) younger smokers, and (c) studies carried out after 1999. This pattern is consistent with an effect that relies on menthol to facilitate increased nicotine intake from fewer cigarettes where economic pressure restricts the number of cigarettes smokers can afford to purchase.
There is growing evidence that certain subgroups of smokers find it harder to quit menthol versus nonmenthol cigarettes. There is a need for additional research, and particularly for studies including adequately powered and diverse samples of menthol and nonmenthol smokers, with reliable measurement of cigarette brands, socioeconomic status, and biomarkers of nicotine intake.

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    • "Exotic flavours like menthol, vanilla, candy, alcohol, chocolate make the cigarettes desirable for teenagers, women and especially young ones [3,6]. It has been found that tobacco products having a characterized flavour other than tobacco may influence smoking initiation, higher exposure to smoke constituents, greater dependence on nicotine or worse smoking cessation outcomes [7-12]. Flavoured cigarettes not only have a more pleasant taste that makes smoking initiation easier, but the menthol’s cooling and anesthetic effects mask the short-term negative physiological effects of smoking such as throat pain, burning and cough. "
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    • "It is interesting to consider that menthol, a common cigarette additive, has been associated with a greater tobacco dependence potential and lower success in cessation attempts [3], [7], [4]. A reduction in α7 nACh receptor function has been proposed to constitute a biological mechanism for increased motivation for cigarette smoking [53], [54]. "
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