Menthol cigarettes contribute to the appeal and addiction potential of smoking for youth
Introduction: Menthol cigarettes are a common choice of cigarettes among young smokers that contribute to the addictive potential of cigarette smoking.
Methods: We reviewed prior research and analyzed the 2006 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), using logistic regression to assess the relationship between menthol cigarette use and needing a cigarette within 1 hr after smoking.
Results: In the 2006 NYTS, 51.7% (95% CI: 45.8–57.5) of middle school smokers and 43.1% (95% C.I.: 37.0, 49.1) of high school smokers reported that they usually smoked a menthol brand of cigarettes, using a menthol smoking status definition based on consistency between smokers’ report of the brand and the menthol status of the cigarettes they usually smoked. A logistic regression model of dependence, controlling for background (i.e., school level, gender, and race/ethnicity) and smoking level (i.e., years, frequency, and level of smoking) found that smoking menthol cigarettes was significantly associated with reduced time to needing a cigarette among smokers with a regular brand (odds ratio [OR]: 1.86, p = .003) and among established smokers (OR: 2.06, p = .001). This is consistent with other studies that found that youth who smoked menthol cigarettes were significantly more likely than those who smoked nonmenthol cigarettes to report signs of nicotine dependency.
Conclusions: Menthol cigarettes contribute to the appeal of youth smoking and to the addictive potential of smoking cigarettes among youth. It is important to control the use of menthol cigarettes and to implement cessation strategies that are effective with youth smokers.