How Smokers of Menthol Cigarettes and Flavored Cigars Might Respond to FDA's Proposed Bans

Nicotine Tob Res. 2022 Oct 17;24(10):1645-1653. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntac078.

Abstract

Introduction: A ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars may reduce smoking and tobacco-related disparities.

Aims and methods: We aimed to examine the response of current smokers to a hypothetical ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Current smokers were recruited online and reported the alternative products that they may switch to under a hypothetical ban, if they would try to obtain the banned products from illicit channels, and their support to the ban.

Results: 51% of current smokers would use nonflavored cigarettes and cigars as alternatives, 45% would switch to flavored heated tobacco products or e-cigarettes or quit smoking. 17% would try to obtain the banned flavored products from illicit markets. A majority of menthol only smokers opposed the ban. Daily smokers would be more likely to switch to nonflavored smoking, to try illicit market products, and were less supportive of the ban. Black smokers would be less likely to switch to nonflavored smoking and were more supportive of the ban. Smokers who used menthol cigarettes only would be more likely to switch to nonflavored smoking, less likely to try illicit market sellers, and were the least supportive of the ban.

Conclusions: In response to a ban of all added flavors for cigarettes or cigars, nearly half of the current smokers would quit smoking, largely by switching to nonsmoking products. However, smokers with more chronic use and those who used only menthol cigarettes would be more likely to switch to nonflavored smoking, diminishing the harm reduction potential. The ban may decrease the relatively higher prevalence of menthol cigarette smoking among Blacks compared with other groups.

Implications: A ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars may decrease the prevalence of smoking because some current smokers may quit smoking and switch to nonsmoking products. However, smokers with more chronic use and those who used menthol cigarettes only were more likely to switch to nonflavored cigarettes or cigars, diminishing the harm reduction potential of the ban. Black smokers would be more likely to switch to products other than cigarettes and cigars thus decreasing their relatively higher prevalence of smoking compared with other groups.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Flavoring Agents
  • Humans
  • Menthol
  • Smokers
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Products*

Substances

  • Flavoring Agents
  • Menthol