Are menthol cigarettes worse for your health? Find out why a U.S. advisory panel is pushing for a menthol cigarette ban.
Smoking isn’t healthy regardless of the type, flavor, or brand of cigarette – but menthol may be worse. A U.S. advisory committee is now looking at the unique health risks of menthol cigarettes and could lobby for a menthol cigarette ban. Are menthol cigarettes worse than regular ones when it comes to the health effects of smoking?
Menthol vs. Regular Cigarettes: Are Menthol Cigarettes Worse?
Smoking menthol cigarettes may be more addictive than smoking unflavored ones – which makes it more difficult for a menthol cigarette smoker to kick the habit. The increased potential for addiction seems to come from the more pleasing menthol flavor. According to a study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research and in the New York Times, menthol cigarettes are favored by three-quarters of black smokers. Black smokers, as a group are less likely to quit smoking than their Caucasian counterparts who buy regular cigarettes seventy-five percent of the time. Experts believe it’s the menthol flavor that partially accounts for the lower rate of smoking cessation among blacks.
People who smoke menthol cigarettes smoke fewer cigarettes, but take in more nicotine with each inhalation relative to people who smoke regular cigarettes. Menthol is often added to cigarette brands that are labeled “light”. Despite this, people who smoke these light cigarettes take in as much or more nicotine since they take deeper inhalations and hold the smoke in their lung longer. Light cigarettes may not be so “light” after all.
Will There Be a Menthol Cigarette Ban?
Cigarettes with added flavors such as fruit, cola, spice, and chocolate were banned in 2009 because of their potential to entice children to smoke and become addicted. Younger smokers were more likely to smoke these flavored cigarettes than were older teenagers and adult smokers. Menthol cigarettes were exempt from this flavored cigarette ban by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; but smoking advisory groups hope to encourage the FDA to reconsider a menthol cigarette ban to preserve the health of black smokers and all other smokers of menthol cigarettes.
Menthol vs. Regular Cigarettes: The Bottom Line?
Menthol cigarettes may be more addictive and more deadly than regular cigarettes. Menthol cigarette smokers inhale menthol cigarette smoke more deeply and hold it in their lungs longer which increases the amount of nicotine they absorb and the damage they do to their lungs. Hopefully, the FDA will make the decision to ban menthol cigarettes – taking one small step toward helping smokers limit the damage to their overall health.
Medscape.com website. “U.S. FDA Panel Weighs Menthol Cigarette Effects”
NY Times website. “Habits: Menthol May Add a Danger for Smokers”