Menthol Reinforces Sustained Cigarette Smoking Among Youth

Cigarette smoking frequency, quantity, dependence, and quit intentions during adolescence: Comparison of menthol and non-menthol smokers (National Youth Tobacco Survey 2017-2020)



Background: Use of menthol cigarettes is linked to sustained cigarette smoking adults. However, the relationship between menthol and smoking profile has not been thoroughly explored in adolescent cigarette smokers. This study examines the relationship between use of menthol cigarette and smoking frequency (i.e., days per month), quantity (i.e., cigarettes per day), quit intentions, and nicotine dependence (i.e., craving tobacco; use within 30 min of waking).

Methods: We pooled four years (2017-2020) of cross-sectional data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey. Participants were 2699 adolescent, past 30-day cigarette smokers. Multinomial logistic regression models examined the relationship between menthol and cigarette smoking frequency and quantity. Logistic regressions examined the relationship between menthol and intentions to quit smoking and nicotine dependence. Models controlled for socio-demographics and other tobacco use.

Results: Menthol cigarette smokers had greater risk of smoking 20-30 days per month relative to 1-5 days per month (RRR: 1.90; 95% CI: 1.41 – 2.54) and greater risk of smoking 11+ cigarettes per day relative to 1 or less cigarettes per day (RRR: 1.35; 95% CI: 1.01 – 1.80), adjusting for covariates. Menthol cigarette smokers had lower odds of intentions to quit smoking (Adj OR: 0.70; 95% CI: 0.58 – 0.84) but great odds of craving tobacco (OR: 1.47; 95% CI: 1.20 – 1.81) and using tobacco within 30 minutes of waking (OR: 1.63; 95% CI: 1.29 – 2.05), adjusting for covariates CONCLUSION: Findings suggest the relationship between menthol and cigarette smoking profile (i.e., frequency, quantity, quit intentions) is different for youth than that of adults. This study adds adolescent-specific evidence to existing research that suggests menthol reinforces sustained cigarette smoking among youth.

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