Menthol cigarette use among racial and ethnic groups in the United States, 2004-2008

Nicotine Tob Res. 2010 Dec;12 Suppl 2:S117-24. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntq204.


Introduction: Understanding the patterns of menthol cigarette use can be useful in developing and justifying policies designed to prevent and reduce cigarette use and exposure to tobacco smoke. This report provides an update and summary of the demographic distribution and trends of menthol cigarette use in the United States.

Methods: Data from the 2004-2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health were analyzed to estimate menthol cigarette use among current smokers by race/ethnicity, sex, and age (12 years and older). A t-test was used to compare estimates for menthol and nonmenthol use by demographic group. Trend analyses were conducted to examine differences in menthol cigarette use by race/ethnicity and age from 2004 to 2008.

Results: Over half of menthol cigarette smokers were female (52.2%), and approximately 29.4% of all menthol smokers were Black, which was almost 10 times the percentage of nonmenthol smokers who were Black (3.0%, p < .01). Prevalence of past month menthol cigarette use was highest among current smokers aged 12-17 years (44.7%) and decreased as age group increased. From 2004 to 2008, menthol cigarette use increased significantly among White smokers aged 12-17 years (from 40.3% in 2004 to 46.0% in 2008, p < .01). Menthol cigarette use among young adult smokers aged 18-25 years increased for Hispanics (from 33.9% in 2004 to 42.4% in 2008, p < .01) and Whites (from 26.7% to 32.5%, p < .01).

Conclusions: Demographic disparities in menthol cigarette use persist in the United States. Continued monitoring and improvement of existing surveillance systems to identify patterns and trends in menthol cigarette use are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Flavoring Agents*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Menthol*
  • Public Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / ethnology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Flavoring Agents
  • Menthol