African-American menthol and nonmenthol smokers: differences in smoking and cessation experiences

J Natl Med Assoc. 2004 Sep;96(9):1208-11.


Background: Despite smoking fewer cigarettes per day, African Americans have lower cessation rates and experience disproportionately higher rates of smoking-related health consequences. Because of their high preference for menthol cigarettes, it has been suggested that smoking menthol cigarettes may contribute to the excess smoking-related morbidity experienced by African Americans. Smoking menthol cigarettes could increase health risks from smoking if smokers of menthol cigarettes have lower cessation rates and thereby have longer duration of smoking compared to smokers of nonmentholated cigarettes. Few studies have examined associations between smoking of mentholated cigarettes and smoking cessation among African Americans. This study examined the smoking patterns of menthol cigarette smokers and their smoking cessation experiences.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 480 African-American smokers at an inner-city health center. Survey examined sociodemographics, smoking characteristics, and smoking cessation experiences of participants. Menthol smokers (n = 407) were compared to nonmenthol smokers (n = 73) in these characteristics.

Results: Menthol smokers were younger and more likely to smoke cigarettes with longer rod length, with filters, and those high in nicotine and tar. Although both groups did not differ by number of past quit attempts, time since most recent quit attempt was shorter for menthol smokers. The durations of most recent and longest-ever quit attempts were nonsignificantly shorter for menthol, compared to nonmenthol smokers.

Conclusions: These data suggest that African-American menthol smokers are less successful with smoking cessation. Prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings and examine mechanisms underlying such differences.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Menthol*
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / ethnology*
  • Smoking Cessation / ethnology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population


  • Menthol