Introduction: In 2011 menthol cigarettes accounted for 32 percent of the market in the United States, but there are few literature reports that provide measured menthol data for commercial cigarettes. To assess current menthol application levels in the US cigarette market, menthol levels in cigarettes labeled or not labeled to contain menthol was determined for a variety of contemporary domestic cigarette products.
Method: We measured the menthol content of 45 whole cigarettes using a validated gas chromatography/mass spectrometry method.
Results: In 23 cigarette brands labeled as menthol products, the menthol levels of the whole cigarette ranged from 2.9 to 19.6mg/cigarette, with three products having higher levels of menthol relative to the other menthol products. The menthol levels for 22 cigarette products not labeled to contain menthol ranged from 0.002 to 0.07mg/cigarette. The type of packaging (soft vs. hard pack) for a given cigarette product does not appear to affect menthol levels based on the current limited data.
Conclusions: Menthol levels in cigarette products labeled as containing menthol are approximately 50- to 5000-fold higher than those in cigarette products not labeled as containing menthol. In general, menthol content appears to occur within discrete ranges for both mentholated and nonmentholated cigarettes.
Implications: This study shows that menthol may be present in non-mentholated cigarettes and adds to the understanding of how menthol may be used in cigarette products. It is the first systematic study from the same laboratory which will readily enable comparison among menthol and non-menthol cigarettes.
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