Teens Who Smoked Menthol Cigarettes Smoked More

Menthol cigarette smokers less likely to plan on quitting

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Beth Bolt, RPh Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The harmful health effects of smoking haven’t stopped some people from smoking. Teens are smoking, too, and some factors may increase smoking in teens.

Previous research has shown that menthol cigarettes may increase nicotine dependence. Recent research looked at the habits of teens who smoked menthol cigarettes.

The researchers reported that teens who smoked menthol cigarettes smoked more than those who smoked non-menthol cigarettes. And fewer teens who smoked menthol cigarettes planned to quit.

"Teach your teen the dangers of smoking any kind of tobacco."

The lead author of this study was Sunday Azagba, PhD, from the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

The research team used data on teens’ smoking habits collected from the 2010-2011 Youth Smoking Survey, which was given to Canadian students in grades 9 through 12.

For their study, these researchers used data from students who indicated on the survey that they smoked. Students who smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime were called established smokers, and those who smoked fewer were called experimental smokers.

The survey asked the students to report the average number of cigarettes smoked per day, the total number smoked in the past week, whether they intended to smoke in the future and whether they smoked menthol cigarettes. The students were also asked whether friends and family members smoked.

Male students reported smoking more cigarettes than female students. Students with a smoking parent, guardian or close friend smoked more cigarettes than those students with a non-smoking parent, guardian or friend.

Students who smoked menthol cigarettes reported smoking an average of 6.86 cigarettes per day, compared with 4.59 smoked by non-menthol smoking students.

Per week, menthol-smoking students smoked 42.74 cigarettes. Non-menthol cigarette smokers reported smoking 26.33 cigarettes per week, nearly half of what the menthol-smoking students smoked.

Established smokers were almost twice as likely to intend to smoke in the next year as non-menthol smokers.

Experimental smokers were nearly three times as likely to intend to smoke in the next year as non-menthol smokers.

One limitation of this study was that the data were self-reported by the teens, and the researchers could not verify whether the teens smoked menthol cigarettes or not.

Another limitation was that the researchers could not determine whether price of the cigarettes had a role in the decision to smoke menthol cigarettes.

"The appeal of menthol cigarettes among youth stems from the perception that they are less harmful than regular cigarettes. The minty taste helps mask the noxious properties, but the reality is that they are just as dangerous as any unflavoured cigarette," said Dr. Azagba in press statement.

"A recent scientific evaluation of the possible health effects of menthol cigarettes conducted by the Food and Drug Administration suggests that menthol in cigarettes is likely associated with increasing nicotine dependence, and menthol smokers are therefore less likely to quit smoking successfully," the researchers wrote.

This study was published June 10 in Cancer Causes and Control.

Funding for the research was provided by a grant from the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute.

The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Last Updated:
June 24, 2014