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Menthol Cigarettes Increase Difficulty in Quitting Smoking Among Some Groups

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People who smoke menthol cigarettes may find it more difficult to quit smoking than those who smoke other types of cigarettes, a new study suggests. The findings were most striking among black and Puerto Rican smokers, HealthDay reports.

The study found menthol cigarettes were much more popular among black smokers (71.8 percent) than among Hispanics (28.1 percent) or whites (21 percent). Among Hispanics, those of Puerto Rican origin were much more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes—62 percent, compared with 19.9 percent among those of Mexican origin and 26.5 percent among those of other Hispanic origin.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found those who smoked menthol cigarettes were less likely to quit than those who smoked non-menthol cigarettes, and this association was more pronounced among blacks and those of Puerto Rican origin.

“Because our evidence suggests that the presence of menthol may partially explain the observed differences in cessation outcomes, the recent calls to ban this flavoring would be prudent and evidence-based,” the researchers said in a news release.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering banning menthol cigarettes following a recent report, from its Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, that the cigarettes are extremely popular among African Americans, the poor and young.

About 19 million Americans smoke menthol cigarettes. The FDA already has banned other types of cigarettes, including flavored beedies, cloves, and cigarettes with vanilla, peppermint and spices, to discourage teenagers from smoking. While sales of menthol cigarettes in the U.S. have risen between 4 and 5 percent the past decade, sales of most regular cigarettes have decreased during the same period. Newport and KOOL are the two most popular menthol brands.

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