Background: The Food and Drug Administration currently is assessing the public health impact of menthol cigarettes. Whether menthol cigarettes pose increased barriers to quitting is a critical issue because previous declines in smoking prevalence have stalled.
Purpose: To explore whether menthol cigarette smokers are less likely to quit than non-menthol smokers at the population level and whether this relationship differs by race/ethnicity.
Methods: Cross-sectional analyses of the 2003 and 2006/2007 Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey were conducted in 2010. Multiple logistic regressions were used to calculate the adjusted odds of cessation for menthol smoking relative to non-menthol smoking. Five different sample restrictions were used to assess the robustness of the findings.
Results: In the broadest sample restriction, menthol smokers were less likely to have quit smoking (AOR=0.91, 95% CI=0.87, 0.96). This relationship holds among whites (AOR=0.93, 95% CI=0.88, 0.98) and blacks (AOR=0.81, 95% CI=0.67, 0.98). The magnitude of the relationship among Hispanics was similar to that among whites, but differed by Hispanic origin. Among those of Mexican origin, the AOR for menthol smokers was protective but not significant (AOR=1.29, 95% CI=0.99, 1.61), whereas among those of Puerto Rican origin, menthol smokers were less likely to have quit (AOR=0.57, 95% CI=0.37, 0.87). These findings were robust and significant in four of five sample restrictions.
Conclusions: Smoking menthol cigarettes is associated with decreased cessation at the population level, and this association is more pronounced among black and Puerto Rican smokers. These findings support the recent calls to ban menthol flavoring in cigarettes.
Copyright © 2011 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.