Effects on Smoking Behavior of Switching Menthol Smokers to Non-menthol Cigarettes

Michael Kotlyar, Ryan Shanley, Sheena R Dufresne, Gretchen A. Corcoran, Kolawole S. Okuyemi, Anne M. Mills, Dorothy K. Hatsukami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Bans of menthol characterizing flavor in cigarettes have been implemented in some localities and have been proposed more broadly. One proposed benefit of such a ban is to increase cessation rates among current menthol smokers. There is currently relatively limited data regarding how smoking behavior changes if menthol smokers switch to non-menthol cigarettes. AIMS AND METHODS: African American menthol smokers interested in quitting smoking were randomized to either continue smoking menthol (n = 60) or switch to non-menthol cigarettes (n = 62) for 1 month prior to a cessation attempt. Cessation results were reported previously; this analysis reports the results from the pre-cessation visits at which amount smoked, exhaled carbon monoxide (CO) concentration, urinary cotinine concentrations, and subjective measures were assessed. RESULTS: Over the 4-week study period, those switching to non-menthol (vs. continuing to smoke menthol) cigarettes smoked fewer cigarettes per day (mean ratio: 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.76, 0.98; p = .02), reported lower withdrawal symptom severity (mean difference -1.29; 95% CI: -2.6 to -0.01; p = .05) and higher perceived effectiveness of their skills for quitting smoking (mean difference 0.56; 95% CI: 0.02-1.10; p = .05). No significant differences were found between groups in exhaled CO, urinary cotinine concentrations, or most other subjective effects including support for a ban on menthol characterizing flavor in cigarettes. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that were menthol cigarettes no longer available, those that switch to non-menthol cigarettes would not change their smoking behavior in a way that is likely to be more hazardous, with some indicators suggesting that there may be some benefit.Clinicaltrials.gov # NCT02342327. IMPLICATIONS: A ban on menthol characterizing flavor in cigarettes has been proposed as a potential means by which to increase smoking cessation rates among current menthol cigarette smokers. This study evaluated how African American menthol cigarette smokers adjusted their smoking behavior after switching to non-menthol cigarettes. Although the overall differences between groups were modest, they were in a direction consistent with decreased smoking suggesting that current smokers would not adjust their behavior in a way that is likely to be more hazardous, with some indicators suggesting that there may be some benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1921-1927
Number of pages7
JournalNicotine & tobacco research : official journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco
Volume23
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 7 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. All rights reserved.For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

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