Manipulation of Menthol and Nicotine Content in Cigarettes: Effects on Smoking Behavior and Toxicant Exposure in Women Menthol Smokers

Cheryl Oncken, Mark D. Litt, Sheila Thurlow, Erin L. Mead-Morse, Lanqing Wang, Dorothy K. Hatsukami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of smoking and other outcomes of assigning cigarettes with reduced nicotine and/or no menthol to female menthol smokers. Aims and Methods: Nontreatment-seeking female menthol smokers (N = 263) participated in a randomized controlled trial in which levels of menthol and nicotine in cigarettes were manipulated using experimental cigarettes. After a baseline period, participants were assigned to the following conditions for 6 weeks: (1) their own brand of cigarette (conventional nicotine with menthol), (2) a conventional nicotine cigarette with no menthol, (3) a cigarette with reduced nicotine (RNC) with menthol, or (4) a RNC cigarette and no menthol. Participants then returned to using their own brand and were followed for another 6 weeks. Outcomes included cigarettes smoked, biomarkers of exposure, and dependence measures. Results: Results indicated that, after an initial increase, rates of smoking of all three experimental cigarettes were at or below baseline rates of smoking of one's own brand. Levels of biomarkers also decreased during the experimental phase but rebounded somewhat after participants resumed smoking their own brand. There was evidence that the overall amount of smoking decreased similarly among women who switched to non-menthol and/or RNC cigarettes. Conclusions: These results suggest that no detrimental effect will occur in nicotine or toxicant exposure levels with a ban on characterizing menthol and/or a product standard on nicotine content in cigarettes. Implications: The implication of this work is that there would be no risk to women menthol smokers associated with regulations restricting nicotine and eliminating menthol in cigarettes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-673
Number of pages9
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. All rights reserved.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.


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