Higher nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in menthol cigarette smokers with and without schizophrenia
This study examined whether smoking menthol cigarettes was associated with increased biochemical measures of smoke intake. Expired carbon monoxide (CO) and serum nicotine and cotinine were measured in 89 smokers with schizophrenia and 53 control smokers immediately after smoking an afternoon cigarette. Serum nicotine levels (27 vs. 22 ng/ml, p = .010), serum cotinine levels (294 vs. 240 ng/ml, p = .041), and expired CO (25 vs. 21 ppm, p = .029) were higher in smokers of menthol compared with nonmenthol cigarettes, with no differences in 3-hydroxycotinine/cotinine ratios between groups when controlling for race. Backward stepwise linear regression models showed that, in addition to having a diagnosis of schizophrenia, smoking menthol cigarettes was a significant predictor of nicotine and cotinine levels. Individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder smoked more generic or discount value brands (Basic, Doral, Monarch, USA, Wave, others) compared with control smokers (28% vs. 6%, p = .002) but did not smoke more brands with high nicotine delivery as estimated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission method. Although rates of mentholated cigarette smoking were not higher in smokers with schizophrenia overall, they were significantly higher in non-Hispanic White people with schizophrenia compared with controls of the same ethnic/racial subgroup (51% vs. 28%, p<.0001). The higher exhaled CO in menthol smokers suggests that the higher nicotine levels are at least partly related to increased intake of smoke from menthol cigarettes, although menthol-mediated inhibition of nicotine metabolism also may be a factor. Menthol is an important cigarette additive that may help explain why some groups have lower quit rates and more smoking-caused disease.