Study Finds Increased Menthol Cigarette Use Among Teens
Aug 30, 2013 - 4:53:23 PM
"Our findings indicate that youth are heavy consumers of mentholated cigarettes, and that overall menthol cigarette smoking has either remained constant or increased in all three age groups we studied, while non-menthol smoking has decreased," says lead researcher Gary Giovino, PhD, professor and chair of the University at Buffalo Department of Community Health and Health Behaviors.
Giovino, one of the world's leading tobacco surveillance researchers, estimated menthol and non-menthol cigarette use during 2004-10 using annual data on nearly 390,000 persons 12 years old and older who took part in the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. The data included more than 84,000 smokers.
The results, which were published online in the international journal, Tobacco Control showed that:
"The study results should inform the FDA regarding the potential public health impact of a menthol ban," Giovino says.
"The FDA is considering banning menthol cigarettes, or other regulatory options," he says. "This research provides an important view of the trends and patterns of menthol use in the nation as a whole. The FDA will consider these findings and findings from multiple other studies as it goes forward.
Giovino is particularly alarmed that the findings show youth are heavy consumers of mentholated cigarettes and the use of menthols is specifically associated with being younger, female and of non-white ethnicity.
"This finding indicates that mentholated cigarettes are a ‘starter product' for kids in part because menthol makes it easier to inhale for beginners," says Giovino. "Simply stated, menthol sweetens the poison, making it easier to smoke. Young people often think menthol cigarettes are safer, in part because they feel less harsh.
"When I was growing up, one of my older friends said he didn't think that menthol cigarette smoking was that dangerous because he was told that they were good for you if you got a cold," says Giovino. "It turns out that Kool was advertising that way for a long time but was stopped from doing so by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) around 1955.
"This ‘urban legend' has persisted."
Funding for the research was provided by Legacy (http://www.legacyforhealth.
In addition to Giovino and Villanti the following researchers collaborated on the study: David Abrams and Raymond Niaura, from the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies, Legacy, and the Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Donna Vallone from the Department of Research and Evaluation, Legacy, and the Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Paul Mowery and Varadan Sevilimedu from Biostatistics Inc.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.
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