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You and Your Health

Menthol May Make It Tougher to Stop Smoking

Menthol May Make It Tougher to Stop Smoking

Photo: Menthol cigarettes harder to quit, especially blacks and Puerto Ricans

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Effect especially strong among blacks, Puerto Ricans, study finds

Menthol cigarettes make it more difficult for smokers to quit, especially blacks and Puerto Ricans, a new study indicates.

Researchers at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the UMDNJ-School of Public Health analyzed tobacco use data from the U.S. National Cancer Institute and focused on white, black and Hispanic current and former smokers.

Overall, the use of menthol cigarettes was highest among females and young adults, aged 18 to 24. When examined by race/ethnicity, menthol cigarette use was much higher among blacks (71.8 percent) than among Hispanics (28.1 percent) or whites (21 percent).

But there were wide variations among Hispanics: Puerto Rican origins (62 percent), Mexican origins (19.9 percent), and other Hispanic origins (26.5 percent), the investigators noted.

The study also found that smokers who used menthol cigarettes were less likely to quit than those who used non-menthol cigarettes, and that this association was strongest among blacks and those of Puerto Rican origin.

“Because our evidence suggests that the presence of menthol may partially explain the observed differences in cessation outcomes, the recent calls to ban this flavoring would be prudent and evidence-based,” the researchers said in a UMDNJ news release.

The study appears Aug. 15 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently considering whether to ban menthol cigarettes.