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Effects on time to lapse of switching menthol smokers to non-menthol cigarettes prior to a cessation attempt: a pilot study


Introduction Menthol smokers (particularly African-Americans) have lower cessation success rates than non-menthol smokers. With bans being considered on characterising menthol flavour in cigarettes, data are needed regarding how switching to non-menthol cigarettes impacts cessation measures.

Methods In this randomised pilot study, African-American menthol cigarette smokers interested in quitting smoking either continued smoking menthol cigarettes (n=60) or switched to non-menthol cigarettes (n=62) for a 1-month period prior to a cessation attempt. The primary endpoint was time to smoking lapse (ie, time from quitting until any smoking). Additional endpoints included time to smoking relapse (ie, number of days from quitting until the first of seven consecutive smoking days) and difference between groups in subjective measures.

Results After attempting to quit, the non-menthol cigarette group had indications of delayed time to lapse (HR 0.82; 95% CI 0.55 to 1.22; p=0.33) and time to relapse (HR 0.67; 95% CI 0.42 to 1.06; p=0.09), although these were not statistically significant. Post hoc analyses suggest that observed differences were largely due to a smaller proportion of participants in the non-menthol group relapsing within the first day of quitting (21% vs 40%; p=0.05). Values of other measures assessed postcessation were largely similar between groups.

Conclusions These data suggest that among African-American smokers, a menthol cigarette ban would not undermine short-term cessation measures and may result in some benefits. Future research is needed to assess longer term cessation rates and to identify interventions to maximise cessation success in the event of a menthol ban.

Trial registration number NCT02342327.

  • cessation
  • nicotine
  • priority/special populations
  • public policy

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