Menthol Ups Smoking Frequency in Youth


FRIDAY, June 10, 2022 — The addition of menthol to cigarettes may increase smoking frequency and nicotine dependence among youth, according to a study published online June 6 in JAMA Network Open.

Eric C. Leas, Ph.D., from University of California in San Diego, and colleagues assessed whether youth menthol cigarette smokers smoke more frequently and display greater symptoms of nicotine dependence than youth nonmenthol cigarette smokers. Analysis included data from 1,096 youth cigarette smokers (aged 12 to 17 years at their baseline and follow-up interviews).

The researchers found that among youth who switched from not smoking to smoking (61 percent of the sample), menthol use was associated with smoking on 3.1 additional days, a 59 percent higher risk of being a frequent smoker, and 10 percent higher nicotine dependence scores. However, switching from smoking menthol to smoking nonmenthol was associated with smoking on 3.6 fewer days and a 47 percent lower risk of being a frequent smoker, compared to maintaining menthol use.

“These results provide strong support for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-proposed ban on menthol flavoring in cigarettes to protect our youth,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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