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Menthol's potential effects on nicotine dependence: a tobacco industry perspective
  1. Valerie B Yerger
  1. Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Valerie B Yerger, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Box 0612, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0612, USA; valerie.yerger{at}


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 ( 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.

  • Menthol
  • smoking
  • tobacco
  • tobacco industry
  • nicotine dependence
  • addiction
  • qualitative study
  • tobacco products
  • volatile organic compounds
  • young adults

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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