This study investigates 1) the relationship between menthol cigarette smoking and obesity and 2) the association of body mass index with the nicotine metabolite ratio among menthol and non-menthol daily smokers aged 18-35 (n = 175). A brief survey on smoking and measures of height and weight, carbon monoxide, and saliva samples were collected from participants from May to December 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Multiple regression was used to estimate differences in body mass index among menthol and non-menthol smokers and the association of menthol smoking with obesity. We calculated the log of the nicotine metabolite ratio to examine differences in the nicotine metabolite ratio among normal, overweight, and obese smokers. Sixty-eight percent of smokers used menthol cigarettes. Results showed that 62% of normal, 54% of overweight, and 91% of obese smokers used menthol cigarettes (p = .000). The mean body mass index was significantly higher among menthol compared with non-menthol smokers (29.4 versus 24.5, p = .000). After controlling for gender, marital status, educational attainment, employment status, and race/ethnicity, menthol smokers were more than 3 times as likely as non-menthol smokers to be obese (p = .04). The nicotine metabolite ratio was significantly lower for overweight menthol smokers compared with non-menthol smokers (.16 versus .26, p = .02) in the unadjusted model, but was not significant after adjusting for the covariates. Consistent with prior studies, our data show that menthol smokers are more likely to be obese compared with non-menthol smokers. Future studies are needed to determine how flavored tobacco products influence obesity among smokers.
Keywords: Body mass index; Menthol; Obesity; Smoking; Young Adults.