TReND: Special Journal Issue: The Role of Mentholated Cigarettes on Smoking Behaviors in United States Populations

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About the Project

Rationale: National data shows that rates of menthol flavored cigarette smoking are particularly high among African Americans and other racial/ethnic minority groups, women, youth, and people who live in low resource communities. [1, 2, 3] Prior studies reveal that the tobacco industry has specifically targeted these populations for menthol cigarette consumption [4-13] and that menthol cigarette smoking is associated with smoking uptake among youth [2, 4, 14]. Some researchers and advocates also hypothesize that menthol cigarettes might explain the disproportionate tobacco-related cancer burden among African Americans [15-22] and may explain difficulty in quitting among African Americans [23-27]. To increase our understanding of the potential harm of menthol cigarettes, in 2002, the National Cancer Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Legacy Foundation, Battelle, The Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Onyx Group, and the California Tobacco Related Disease Research Program exit disclaimer collaborated to host the First Conference on Menthol Cigarettes: Setting the Research Agenda. This 2-day meeting was developed to examine the current evidence-base and lay the groundwork for future research on the potential harm of menthol cigarettes. The results from the meeting were published in two key publications: 1) NCI’s Executive Summary of the meeting and 2) a special journal issue titled, Menthol Cigarettes—Setting the Research Agenda, published in 2004 by Nicotine and Tobacco Research (vol. 6, suppl 1). To further increase the evidence-base, in 2009, TReND launched a new an effort to produce a special journal supplement that includes investigations examining the role of menthol cigarette smoking and addiction among different segments of people in the United States.

Purpose: Utilizing data from two national surveys, the 2003 and 2006/07 Tobacco-Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS) and the 2005 National Health Interview Survey Cancer Control Supplement (NHIS-CCS), this special journal issue aims to increase the evidence-base on the role of menthol in smoking behaviors including smoking initiation, cessation, relapse, and addiction. The specific research questions include:

  1. What is the role of mentholated cigarettes in smoking initiation and the progression of smoking (transition to regular, daily/non-daily, light/heavy, and/or addiction)?
  2. What is the role of mentholated cigarettes in tobacco addiction and reinforcement?
  3. How do mentholated cigarettes affect the smoking cessation processes (intention to quit, quit attempts, smoking abstinence, reduction, relapse, short-term successful quitting, and long-term successful quitting)?
  4. To what extent are the higher prevalence rates of mentholated cigarettes preference/use among specific groups influenced by health beliefs and/or neighborhood, social, cultural, economic or other policy-level factors? Do any of these factors operate in combination to exert a synergistic effect on the occurrence of these higher prevalence rates?

Impact: These papers will provide valuable information for U.S. policy makers, including the Food and Drug Administration’s Tobacco Products Center, researchers, and practitioners by not only helping to answer the research questions, but also stimulating additional research on this understudied topic, and informing intervention studies to prevent the use of menthol cigarette smoking.


  1. U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau (2008). National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Co-sponsored Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (2006-07): Data files (AND/OR) technical documentation website:
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. The NSDUH Report: Use of Menthol Cigarettes. 2009, Rockville, MD.
  3. Appleyard J, Messeri P, Haviland ML (2001). Smoking among Asian American and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander youth: Data from the 2000 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Asian Am Pac Isl J Health; 9(1):5-14.
  4. Kreslake JM, Wayne GF, Alpert HR, Koh HK, Connolly GN (2008). Tobacco industry control of menthol in cigarettes and targeting of adolescents and young adults. Am J Public Health; 98: 1685-92.
  5. Assunta M, Chapman S (2004). A "clean cigarette" for a clean nation: A case study of Salem Pianissimo in Japan. Tob Control; 13 Suppl 2:ii58-62.
  6. Mackay J., Amos A (2003). Women and tobacco. Respirology; 8:123-30.
  7. Balbach ED, Gasior RJ, Barbeau, EM (2003). R.J. Reynold's targeting of African-Americans: 1988–2000, Am J Public Health; 93: 822–827.
  8. Cummings KM, Giovino G, Mendicino AJ (1987). Cigarette advertising and black-white differences in brand preference. Public Health Rep; 102:698-701.
  9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1998). Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups—African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.
  10. Gardiner PS (2004). The African Americanization of menthol cigarettes in the United States, Nicotine Tob Res; 6 Suppl 1:S55–S65.
  11. Landrine H, Klonoff EA, Fernandez S, Hickman N, Kashima K, Parekh B, et al. (2005). Cigarette advertising in Black, Latino, and White magazines, 1998-2002: An exploratory investigation. Ethn Dis; 15: 63-7.
  12. Sutton CD, Robinson RG (2004). The marketing of menthol cigarettes in the United States: Populations, messages, and channels. Nicotine Tob Res; 6: S83-91.
  13. Yerger VB, Przewoznik J, Malone RE (2007). Racialized geography, corporate activity, and health disparities: Tobacco industry targeting of inner cities. J Health Care Poor Underserved; 18: 10-38.
  14. Hersey JC, Ng SW, Nonnemaker JM, Mowery P, Thomas KY, Vilsaint MC, et al. (2006). Are menthol cigarettes a starter product for youth? Nicotine Tob Res; 8: 403-13.
  15. Hebert, J.R. (2003). Invited commentary: Menthol cigarettes and risk of lung cancer. American Journal of Epidemiology 158(7): 617-620.
  16. Brooks DR, Palmer JR, Strom BL, Rosenberg L (2003). Menthol cigarettes and risk of lung cancer. Am J Epidemiol; 158: 609-16; discussion 17-20.
  17. Carpenter CL, Jarvik ME, Morgenstern H, McCarthy WJ, London SJ (1999). Mentholated cigarette smoking and lung-cancer risk. Ann Epidemiol; 9: 114-20.
  18. Hebert JR, Kabat GC (1989). Menthol cigarette smoking and oesophageal cancer. Int J Epidemiol; 18: 37-44.
  19. Kabat GC, Hebert JR (1991). Use of mentholated cigarettes and lung cancer risk. Cancer Res; 51: 6510-3.
  20. Sidney S, Tekawa IS, Friedman GD, Sadler MC, Tashkin DP (1995). Mentholated cigarette use and lung cancer. Arch Intern Med; 155: 727-32.
  21. Stellman SD, Chen Y, Muscat JE, Djordjevic MV, Richie JP Jr., Lazarus P, et al.(2003). Lung cancer risk in white and black Americans. Ann Epidemiol; 13: 294-302.
  22. Okuyemi KS, Ahluwalia JS, Ebersole-Robinson M, Catley D, Mayo MS, Resnicow K (2003). Does menthol attenuate the effect of bupropion among African American smokers? Addiction 98(10): 1387-93
  23. Okuyemi KS, Faseru B, Sanderson Cox L, Bronars CA, Ahluwalia JS (2007). Relationship between menthol cigarettes and smoking cessation among African American light smokers. Addiction 102(12): 1979-86.
  24. Harris KJ, Okuyemi KS, Catley D, Mayo MS, Ge B, Ahluwalia JS (2004). Predictors of smoking cessation among African-Americans enrolled in a randomized controlled trial of bupropion. Prev Med; 38: 498-502.
  25. Gundersen DA, Delnevo CD, Wackowski O (2009). Exploring the relationship between race/ethnicity, menthol smoking, and cessation, in a nationally representative sample of adults.Prev Med; 49: 553-7.
  26. Gandhi KK, Foulds J, Steinberg MB, Lu SE, Williams JM (2009). Lower quit rates among African American and Latino menthol cigarette smokers at a tobacco treatment clinic. Int J Clin Pract 63(3): 360-7.
  27. Okuyemi KS, Ebersole-Robinson M., Nazir N, Ahluwalia JS (2004). African-American menthol and nonmenthol smokers: Differences in smoking and cessation experiences. J Natl Med Assoc 96(9): 1208-11.

Editorial Team

Kolawole S. Okuyemi, MD, M.P.H. (Lead Editor)
University of Minnesota

Linda A. Alexander, Ed.D. (Associate Editor)
University of Kentucky

George Hammons, Ph.D. (Associate Editor)
Philander-Smith College

Deirdre Lawrence, Ph.D., M.P.H. (Associate Editor)
National Cancer Institute

Contact Us

Lead Editor
Kolawole S. Okuyemi, MD, M.P.H.
Director, Program in Health Disparities Research
Deputy Director, Center for Health Equity
Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
University of Minnesota

Project Activities and Findings

Special Journal Issue

Okuyemi KS, Lawrence D, Hammons G, and Alexander LA, eds (2010). The Role of Mentholated Cigarettes in Smoking Behaviors in United States Populations, Addiction exit disclaimer; Vol 105 (Suppl I).


Panel session at the 138th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association Conference: The Disproportionate Burden of Menthol Cigarettes among Minorities, Women, and Youth: National Datasets to Build the Evidence Base exit disclaimer. November 2010, Denver, CO.

Other Presentations

Fagan P, Moolchan E, Hart A, Rose A, Lawrence D, Shavers V (August 2010). Nicotine dependence and quitting behaviors among menthol and non-menthol smokers with similar consumptive patterns. Poster presentation at the UICC World Cancer Congress, Shenzhen, China.

Parker K, Lawrence D, Rose A, Gibson JT, Fagan P (October 2009). Gender differences in patterns and correlates of menthol smokers in the United States. Poster presentation at the 2nd Conference on Menthol Cigarettes, Washington DC.

Rose A, Lawrence D, Parker K, Fagan P, & Gibson T (August 2010). Gender differences in patterns and correlates of menthol smokers in the United States. Poster presentation at the UICC World Cancer Congress, Shenzhen, China.

Taylor SC, Fagan P, Lawrence D, Rose A, Augustson EM (October 2009). Examining addiction and quitting behaviors among some day menthol and non-menthol Smokers. Poster presentation at the 2nd Conference on Menthol Cigarettes, Washington DC.

Other Resources and Publications

Data and Instruments

Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey: General Information

Tobacco Use Supplements to the Current Population Survey (2003 and 2006/07): Questionnaires and Data

National Health Interview Survey: General Information

National Health Interview Survey 2005: Questionnaires and Data

Web Resources

FDA Tobacco Products Center

FDA Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act


NCI Menthol and Tobacco Bibliography

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and American Legacy Foundation are proud to fund the Tobacco Research Network on Disparities (TReND). Previous support has also been provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office on Women’s Health, NCI Office of Women’s Health, and the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities.