Published June 21, 2019
For decades, Big Tobacco has sold African American smokers on menthol-flavored cigarettes through targeted marketing campaigns. That’s among the reasons why, in the U.S., black smokers who prefer menthols are 12 percent less likely to quit smoking compared to non-menthol users, according to the results of a newly published study.
The findings, reported today in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, underscore the role that mentholated cigarettes play in smoking cessation efforts, particularly among African American tobacco users, says the study’s lead author and University at Buffalo alumnus, Dr. Philip Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Miami University (OH).
Menthol cigarettes were first sold in the 1920s. The tobacco industry began targeting African Americans in the 1940s and menthol use grew along with the belief that menthols were less dangerous, according to Dr. Gary Giovino, the study’s senior author and a professor of community health and health behavior at the University at Buffalo who has extensively studied the marketing and use of menthol cigarettes.
The study — a meta-analysis of 19 studies plucked from a review of more than 400 abstracts — looks at the association between menthol use and smoking cessation.
The finding that menthol flavoring was associated with less success in quitting smoking among African Americans wasn’t surprising, Dr. Smith said. The lack of association for white smokers, however, was.