Objectives To estimate the effect of menthol use and transitions in use (switching to or from menthol) on short-term and long-term cessation from cigarette smoking and whether this differed across demographic groups (age, sex, race).
Methods We compared the probability of 30+ day and 12-month abstinence from cigarette smoking by menthol use status using two cohorts of US adult cigarette smokers who attempted to quit smoking in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (wave 1 to wave 3 and wave 2 to wave 4; n=5759), inverse probability of treatment weighting and adjusted risk ratios (aRRs).
Results Using menthol (vs non-menthol) prior to a quit attempt decreased the probability of 30+ day abstinence by 28% (aRR=0.78; 95% CI 0.67 to 0.91) and the probability of 12-month abstinence by 53% (aRR=0.65; 95% CI 0.47 to 0.88). Additionally, switching from menthol (vs maintaining menthol use) increased the probability of 30+ day abstinence by 58% (aRR=1.58; 95% CI 1.00 to 2.50) and the probability of 12-month abstinence by 97% (aRR=1.86; 95% CI 0.92 to 3.74). Switching to menthol (vs maintaining non-menthol use) was associated with a lower probability of 30+ day (aRR=0.70; 95% CI 0.42 to 1.16) and 12-month abstinence (aRR=0.64; 95% CI 0.30 to 1.36), but these associations were imprecise. The effects of menthol use on impaired quitting were slightly larger for non-Hispanic Black smokers, but not different for other demographic groups.
Conclusion These results demonstrate that menthol impaired menthol smokers’ attempts to quit smoking but switching from menthol improved success. This suggests that removing menthol may improve menthol smokers’ success during quit attempts.
Data availability statement
Data are available in a public, open-access repository, the National Addiction and HIV Data Archive: https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/web/NAHDAP/studies/36498.
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