Should menthol cigarettes be banned? A new study by researchers at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey presents evidence in favor of such a ban. According to researchers, the mint-flavored cigarettes are harder to quit than regular smokes — especially among minorities.
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and funded in part by an FDA grant, examined the habits of smokers of all ages and ethnicities, while focusing on specific subgroups, such as those trying to kick the habit. Across the board, menthol smokers had a harder time quitting, and the difficulty was most pronounced among minorities.
More than 70 percent of black smokers and 60 percent of Puerto Rican smokers in the U.S. were menthol smokers, compared to the roughly 20 percent of white smokers who smoked menthols. The study also noted that menthol smoking decreased independently of race with increased education, income and age. After looking at a number of factors — including age, race, quit attempts and use of other tobacco products — the researches found a "robust and consistent" correlation between the smoking of menthol cigarettes and difficulty quitting the habit.
The study may be the nail in the coffin for menthol cigarettes, coming at a time when the FDA is considering banning the minty smokes. Two years ago, other flavored cigarettes were banned as part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which focused on the targeting of younger populations with added flavor choices. The FDA is currently considering adding menthol cigarettes to this ban because the group's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee recommended in March that a "removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States."