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Menthol Cigarettes and Public Health

Cigarettes containing the cool flavor of mint (menthol) are highly popular among teens, women and Black Americans. Studies show that menthols increase nicotine dependence and decrease smoking cessation. This is especially true for African American smokers, who smoke a greater number of menthol cigarettes and have lower rates of cessation than non-menthol smokers. In fact, a recent study of menthol-only smokers in treatment shows that menthol cigarettes inhibit recovery from tobacco addiction. Check It Out

The tobacco industry has used a variety of tactics to promote their mentholated products, including extensive marketing to specific racial/ethnic groups and youth. These strategies have contributed to the current high use of menthol cigarettes in some communities. In response, local and state governments have tried to restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes. However, the tobacco industry has worked to undermine these efforts. In California, a bill banning the sale of most flavored tobacco products was passed in 2020, but the tobacco industry has launched a campaign to repeal the ban.

Cool and Refreshing: The Allure of Menthol Cigarettes

The TPSAC, which we serve on, conducted an independent review of the evidence and concluded that removing menthol cigarettes would benefit public health. We examined the information contained in internal tobacco documents that document the companies’ planning for menthol and compared this to results from independent population surveys that have been designed to measure consumer perceptions and behavior. The comparison reveals that the information from the tobacco documents is largely consistent with the conclusions drawn from the data obtained in independent population surveys.

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