Teens who try menthol cigarettes are more likely to become smokers than those who start experimenting with regular cigarettes, a new study finds. The research included more than 47,000 students in middle school and high school, Reuters reports.
Young people who try menthol cigarettes are 80 percent more likely to become regular smokers, according to researchers from RTI International, a research institute in North Carolina. The study appears in the journal Addiction.
About 19 million Americans smoke menthol cigarettes. While sales of menthol cigarettes in the U.S. have risen between 4 and 5 percent during the past decade, sales of most regular cigarettes have decreased during the same period. Newport and KOOL are the two most popular menthol brands.
Critics of menthol cigarettes say the additive makes them more appealing to new smokers, and may be especially likely to lead to addiction.
“This study adds additional evidence that menthol cigarettes are a potential risk factor for kids becoming established, adult smokers,” said study leader James Nonnemaker, of the research institute RTI International in North Carolina.