Objective: To examine the association between the use of menthol cigarettes and smoking cessation, amount smoked, and time to first cigarette in the morning.
Background: The majority of African American smokers smoke mentholated cigarettes. Some evidence suggests that African Americans may be more nicotine dependent than whites. One theory is that menthol in cigarettes is responsible for enhancing the dependence producing capacity of cigarettes; however, few studies have prospectively examined the association between menthol use and indicators of nicotine dependence.
Methods: Baseline smokers from the Community Intervention Trial for Smoking Cessation (COMMIT) completed a telephone tobacco use survey in 1988 and were re-interviewed in 1993. Use of mentholated cigarettes was assessed by self report at baseline. Indicators of dependence examined were six month cessation in 1993, amount smoked among continuing smokers in 1993, and time to first cigarette in the morning in 1988. Multivariate regression techniques were used to assess the association of baseline menthol use with these outcomes while controlling for other factors related to dependence.
Results: Overall, 24% of the sample smoked a mentholated brand in 1988. No consistent associations were observed for menthol use and indicators of dependence in both overall and race specific analyses. Factors significantly associated with increased menthol use were female sex, age 25–34 years, African American and Asian race/ethnicity, greater education, greater than 60 minutes to the first cigarette in the morning, two or more past quit attempts, and use of premium brand cigarettes. Canadian respondents and those who smoked 15–24 cigarettes per day had lower rates of menthol use. Use of mentholated cigarettes was not associated with quitting, amount smoked, or time to first cigarette in the morning.
Conclusion: Future work is needed to clarify the physiological and sociocultural mechanisms involved in mentholated cigarette smoking.