Objective To examine what the tobacco industry knows about the potential effects menthol may have on nicotine dependence.
Methods A snowball strategy was used to systematically search the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/) between 22 February and 29 April, 2010. Of the approximately 11 million documents available in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, the iterative searches returned tens of thousands of results. We qualitatively analysed a final collection of 309 documents relevant the effects of menthol on nicotine dependence.
Results The tobacco industry knows that menthol overrides the harsh taste of tobacco and alleviates nicotine's irritating effects, synergistically interacts with nicotine, stimulates the trigeminal nerve to elicit a ‘liking’ response for a tobacco product, and makes low tar, low nicotine tobacco products more acceptable to smokers than non-mentholated low delivery products.
Conclusion Menthol is not only used in cigarettes as a flavour additive; tobacco companies know that menthol also has sensory effects and interacts with nicotine to produce tobacco products that are easier to smoke, thereby making it easier to expose smokers, especially those who are new and uninitiated, to the addictive power of nicotine.
- tobacco industry
- nicotine dependence
- qualitative study
- tobacco products
- volatile organic compounds
- young adults
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This manuscript will be useful for the Tobacco Control readership in all countries that are parties to the FCTC, as they implement the product regulation provisions of the FCTC.
Funding Supported by the Department of Health and Human Services Contract HHSN261201000035I and the California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, Grants #15KT-0038 and #16RT-0149.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed. This peer reviewed paper is based on a longer, more detailed (but not peer reviewed) white paper prepared for the US Food and Drug Administration. The full white paper is available at http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/4wf962df and http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/TobaccoProductsScientificAdvisoryCommittee/UCM228127.pdf.
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