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Changes in the prevalence and correlates of menthol cigarette use in the USA, 2004–2014
  1. Andrea C Villanti1,2,
  2. Paul D Mowery3,
  3. Cristine D Delnevo4,5,
  4. Raymond S Niaura1,2,6,
  5. David B Abrams1,2,6,
  6. Gary A Giovino7
  1. 1The Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative, Washington, DC, USA
  2. 2Department of Health, Behavior and Society, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3Biostatistics, Inc, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  4. 4Center for Tobacco Studies, School of Public Health, Rutgers, the State University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
  5. 5Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers, the State University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
  6. 6Department of Oncology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Washington, DC, USA
  7. 7Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrea C Villanti, Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy at Truth Initiative, 900 G Street NW, Fourth Floor, Washington DC 20001, USA; avillanti{at}


Introduction National data from 2004 to 2010 showed that despite decreases in non-menthol cigarette use prevalence, menthol cigarette use prevalence remained constant in adolescents and adults and increased in young adults. The purpose of the current study was to extend these analyses through 2014.

Methods We estimated the prevalence of menthol cigarette smoking in the USA during 2004–2014 using annual cross-sectional data on persons aged ≥12 years from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Self-reported menthol status for selected brands that were either exclusively menthol or non-menthol were adjusted based on retail sales data. Data were weighted to provide national estimates.

Results Although overall smoking prevalence has decreased, the proportion of past 30-day cigarette smokers using menthol cigarettes was higher (39%) in 2012–2014 compared to 2008–2010 (35%). Youth smokers remain the most likely group to use menthol cigarettes compared to all other age groups. Menthol cigarette prevalence has increased in white, Asian and Hispanic smokers since 2010. Menthol cigarette prevalence exceeded non-menthol cigarette prevalence in youth and young adult smokers in 2014. Among smokers, menthol cigarette use was positively correlated with co-use of cigars. Menthol cigarette and smokeless tobacco co-use also increased from 2004 to 2014.

Conclusions The youngest smokers are most likely to use menthol cigarettes. Among smokers, increases in overall menthol cigarette use and menthol cigarette use in whites, Asians and Hispanics since 2010 are of concern. There is tremendous urgency to limit the impact of menthol cigarettes on public health, particularly the health of youth and young adults.

  • Prevention
  • Priority/special populations
  • Public policy
  • Surveillance and monitoring
  • Disparities

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  • Twitter Follow Cristine Delnevo at @lozzola

  • Contributors All authors conceived of the study. ACV and PDM wrote the initial draft of the manuscript. PDM conducted the data analysis. ACV, PDM, CDD, RSN, DBA and GAG contributed to the analysis, interpretation of the data and to the review, revision and approval of the final article.

  • Funding This study was funded by Truth Initiative.

  • Competing interests The authors have read and understood Tobacco Control's policy on declaration of interests and declare that they have no competing interests.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.