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Menthol use among smokers with psychological distress: findings from the 2008 and 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Abstract

Objective The Food and Drug Administration is considering regulation of menthol cigarettes. While persons with mental distress are known to smoke cigarettes at high rates, little is known about their use of menthol. The authors examined the association of psychological distress and menthol use in a national sample of adult smokers.

Methods Data were from the 2008 and 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Past month smokers (N=24 157) were categorised for menthol or non-menthol use. Psychological distress was categorised as none/mild, moderate or severe on the Kessler six-item scale.

Results The prevalence of menthol use was higher among individuals with severe psychological distress, women, young adults, African–Americans, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, persons with fewer years of education and lower income, and the unmarried and uninsured. In a multivariate model controlling for socio-demographic factors, smoking intensity and time to first cigarette, smokers with severe (adjusted OR (AOR) 1.23, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.46, p=0.02) but not moderate (AOR 1.03, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.15, p=0.58) psychological distress were significantly more likely to smoke menthols compared with smokers with none/mild distress.

Conclusion An elevated prevalence of menthol use was found among persons with severe psychological distress, suggesting another group that could potentially benefit from the regulation of menthol cigarettes.

  • Menthol
  • cigarette smoking
  • psychological distress
  • mental health
  • tobacco regulation
  • disparities
  • priority/special populations
  • addiction
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