Cool Taste of Menthol Cigarettes Harder to Kick

September 25, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO -- Smokers whose preferred puff is menthol-flavored may find it harder to quit, and the cool-tasting cigarettes are just as bad for the arteries and lungs as non-menthol brands, but no worse, found a long-running cohort story here.

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 25 -- Smokers whose preferred puff is menthol-flavored may find it harder to quit the habit than those who smoke non-menthol brands, researchers said here.

A long-running prospective cohort study, started in 1985, also found that menthol cigarettes are just as bad for the arteries and lungs as the non-menthol variety, but no worse, according to Mark Pletcher, M.D., of the University of California at San Francisco.

An increased hazard from menthol cigarettes has some biological plausibility and had been invoked to explain the higher tobacco-related morbidity and mortality among African-Americans, because they tend to prefer menthol cigarettes, Dr. Pletcher said in an interview.

Indeed, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study found that 89% of African-Americans smoked menthol cigarettes, compared with 29% of Americans of European descent, Dr. Pletcher and colleagues reported in the Sept. 25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The difference was statistically significant at P