Menthol cigarette smoking among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults

Am J Prev Med. 2015 Jan;48(1):93-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.07.044. Epub 2014 Sep 19.


Background: Menthol can mask the harshness and taste of tobacco, making menthol cigarettes easier to use and increasing their appeal among vulnerable populations. The tobacco industry has targeted youth, women, and racial minorities with menthol cigarettes, and these groups smoke menthol cigarettes at higher rates. The tobacco industry has also targeted the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities with tobacco product marketing.

Purpose: To assess current menthol cigarette smoking by sexual orientation among a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults.

Methods: Data were obtained from the 2009-2010 National Adult Tobacco Survey, a national landline and cellular telephone survey of non-institutionalized U.S. adults aged ≥18 years, to compare current menthol cigarette smoking between LGBT (n=2,431) and heterosexual/straight (n=110,841) adults. Data were analyzed during January-April 2014 using descriptive statistics and logistic regression adjusted for sex, age, race, and educational attainment.

Results: Among all current cigarette smokers, 29.6% reported usually smoking menthol cigarettes in the past 30 days. Menthol use was significantly higher among LGBT smokers, with 36.3% reporting that the cigarettes they usually smoked were menthol compared to 29.3% of heterosexual/straight smokers (p<0.05); this difference was particularly prominent among LGBT females (42.9%) compared to heterosexual/straight women (32.4%) (p<0.05). Following adjustment, LGBT smokers had greater odds of usually smoking menthol cigarettes than heterosexual/straight smokers (OR=1.31, 95% CI=1.09, 1.57).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that efforts to reduce menthol cigarette use may have the potential to reduce tobacco use and tobacco-related disease and death among LGBT adults.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bisexuality
  • Data Collection
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Marketing / methods*
  • Menthol*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine*
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / trends*
  • Tobacco Products / classification
  • Tobacco Products / statistics & numerical data*
  • Transgender Persons
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Menthol
  • Nicotine