Introduction: Menthol cigarette smoking is more prevalent among young adults, who are a known target of tobacco industry marketing. This study explores young adults' menthol use and behavioral intentions in the event of a ban on menthol cigarettes.
Methods: Data from 2,871 respondents of the 2011 National Young Adult Health Survey were examined to estimate young adults' current smoking, current menthol smoking, and behavioral intentions in the event of a menthol cigarette ban.
Results: Of all respondents, 23.8% were current smokers, and 40.3% of the current smokers were menthol smokers. Menthol use was significantly higher among 18- to 24-year-olds versus 25- to 34-year-olds (51% vs. 34.3%, p = .02) and was significantly associated with race/ethnicity (p < .0001), with prevalence highest among Black smokers (82.0%). Among menthol smokers, 65.7% indicated they would quit tobacco use altogether if menthol cigarettes were no longer sold, while 18.4% said they would switch to nonmenthol cigarettes, and 16.0% said they would switch to some other tobacco product (OTP). Behavioral intention was significantly associated with race/ethnicity (p = .02), where intention to quit tobacco was most prevalent among Black menthol smokers (79.3%), and concurrent use of OTPs (p = .03), where intention to switch to an OTP was more prevalent among menthol smokers who indicated concurrent OTP use (35.3% vs. 5.5%).
Conclusions: A majority of young adult menthol smokers stated they would quit smoking if menthol cigarettes were no longer sold, which builds on research finding public support for such a policy and on work modeling the public health impact such a ban could have.