Menthol and Mint Cigarettes and Cigars: Initiation and Progression in Youth, Young Adults and Adults in Waves 1-4 of the PATH Study, 2013-2017

Nicotine Tob Res. 2021 Aug 4;23(8):1318-1326. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntaa224.


Introduction: This study examined in youth (12-17 years), young adults (18-24 years), and adults (25+ years): (1) the prevalence of the first menthol cigarette and menthol/mint cigar use among new tobacco users; (2) association between the first menthol/mint use, subsequent tobacco use, and nicotine dependence ~1 year later compared with the first non-menthol/mint use.

Aims and methods: Longitudinal analysis of data from Waves 1 to 4 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study (2013-2017; 10 086 youth and 21 281 adults). Main outcome measures were past 12-month and past 30-day cigarette and cigar use, and nicotine dependence.

Results: Youth and young adult new cigarette users are more likely to smoke a menthol cigarette or indicate that they do not know the flavor compared with adults aged 25+. A greater proportion of adults aged 25+ first used menthol/mint-flavored cigars (13.4%) compared with youth (8.5%) and young adults (7.4%). Among young adults, first use of a menthol cigarette is associated with past 12-month use of cigarettes at the subsequent wave and first use of any menthol/mint-flavored cigars is associated with past 30-day use of these products at the subsequent wave in both youth and young adults. In youth and adults, there were no significant relationships between first use of a menthol/mint cigarette or cigar and nicotine dependence scores at a subsequent wave in multivariable analyses.

Conclusions: The first use of menthol/mint cigarettes and cigars is associated with subsequent cigarette and cigar use in young people aged 12-24.

Implications: This study examined the relationship between initiation with menthol cigarettes and menthol/mint cigars, subsequent tobacco use, and nicotine dependence in US youth, young adults, and adults who participated in Waves 1-4 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study. New use of menthol cigarettes was associated with greater past 12-month cigarette use in young adults and new use of menthol/mint-flavored cigars was associated with greater past 30-day cigar use in youth and young adults compared with non-menthol use. Initiation with menthol/mint cigarette and cigar products may lead to subsequent use of those products.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural