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Why most Americans want menthol cigarettes banned

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Menthol in cigarettes

Telephone surveys show most Americans want menthol cigarettes banned, and here's why.

According to results of the study, most people think menthol added to cigarettes is another ploy to ensure dependency on tobacco.

According to the study authors, menthol cigarettes that are heavily marketed to African-Americans numb the throat, make it easier to inhale deeply and promote smoking at an earlier age.

Menthol cigarettes highly marketed to African Americans

In the survey, 83 percent of African American smokers were found to smoke mentholated cigarettes, compared to 24 percent of whites.

Jonathan Winickoff, MD, MPH, of MGHfC and the lead author of the study says, "The cigarette is one of the most highly engineered products ever created and each additive has a specific purpose.". Menthol provides a "smooth" flavor.

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The study was conducted by the Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC), the American Academy of Pediatrics' Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence, and the American Legacy Foundation that found 56.1 percent.of adults support banning the cigarettes.

In the sampling, 68.0 percent of African Americans said they want menthol cigarettes banned, along with 53.4 percent whites. There were 1514 respondents and an additional 303 African-Americans who were questioned about their attitudes toward the cigarettes.

Winickoff, associate professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and affiliated with the Richmond Center of Excellence, is especially strong about banning menthol in smokes, saying "The tobacco industry has profited enough off the African American community."

Women, young adults age 18 to 24 and survey respondents with less than a high school education were were mostly in favor of banning the ingredient - 64.7 percent of women, 50.3 percent of young adults and 71.2 percent of those who had not completed high school said they support prohibiting menthol from cigarettes.

The reasons cited for removing menthol from cigarettes stems from the notion that they are easier to inhale deeply and promote earlier smoking. Most Americans surveyed support prohibiting menthol.

American Journal of Public Health, 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300146
"US Attitudes About Banning Menthol in Cigarettes:
Results From a Nationally Representative Survey"
Jonathan Winickoff, MD, MPH et al