Menthol cigarettes may hook young smokers faster: study – Consumer Health News

WEDNESDAY, June 8, 2022 (HealthDay News) — As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers banning the sale of menthol cigarettes, a new study reinforces the link between mint tobacco and teen smoking .

According to the survey, teens who started smoking with menthols tended to smoke an average of almost three days longer over a 30-day period than their peers who started smoking with regular cigarettes. They also had a 38% higher risk of being a frequent smoker and an 8% higher risk of nicotine addiction. At the same time, young smokers who switched from menthol cigarettes to regular cigarettes tended to decrease their smoking afterwards.

“Menthol cigarettes are a really unique product. They have an almost numbing property that makes them easier to smoke,” noted Andrea Villanti, an associate professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey who studies tobacco use. among young adults but was not one of them. of the study team.

“They also add a bit of flavor to the product. You can think of your experience of using a cough drop when you’re sick and how it soothes your throat and reduces irritation. So you can imagine that smoking a menthol cigarette would reduce throat irritation, allow you to inhale more deeply and allow you to smoke more, potentially,” Villanti explained.

Previous studies have shown a link between menthol cigarettes and smoking at a young age, but study author Eric Leas, assistant professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health at the University of California, San Diego , said this study established how smoking patterns change over time.

The document, published online June 6 in Open JAMA Network, analyzed data compiled between September 2013 and November 2019 on the smoking habits of young people. The participants were aged 12 to 14 when the study began, and their tobacco use was tracked over subsequent years.

Villanti, who co-wrote an editorial that accompanied the study, agreed that the research offers new insight into how smoking habits change over time, including the outsized role tobacco products play. menthol in the behavior of youth smoking.

But Leas cautioned that while the study appears to support the FDA’s proposed menthol ban, it’s not unequivocal proof that such a ban would be 100% effective.

“These results do not necessarily give an indication of the effectiveness of this ban, as flavor preferences could change,” he said. “But it is an indication that young people who use menthol smoke more often and seem to be more addicted or addicted.”

In fact, the body of tobacco research reveals that “menthol cigarettes are harmful to public health,” Villanti noted. “There have been a number of modeling studies that have been done…showing that hundreds of thousands of deaths could be prevented by banning menthol cigarettes,” she said.

According to the FDA, more than 18 million Americans smoke menthol cigarettes, many of whom belong to the black community, where nearly 85% of smokers prefer menthols. In comparison, only 30% of white smokers and 41% of Asian smokers prefer menthol products.

The new study focused only on smoking and did not examine data on e-cigarette use. According to the FDA’s 2021 Annual National Youth Smoking Survey, e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among adolescents.

Leas acknowledged that vaping has overtaken smoking in popularity among young Americans, but he added that doesn’t mean the former isn’t an issue anymore.

“This sample is made up of young people who smoke cigarettes and there are enough of them to do a study on that,” he said. “Whereas [vaping] is the main driver of tobacco consumption, cigarettes are still used by a significant proportion of young people. »

More information

Visit the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more about menthol cigarettes.

SOURCES: Eric Leas, PhD, MPH, assistant professor, Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health, University of California, San Diego; Andrea Villanti, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor, Rutgers University, New Jersey; Open JAMA NetworkJune 6, 2022, online

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