Banning menthol cigarettes can lead to reduction in smoking rates: Study

New Delhi, Feb 21 – Banning the sale of menthol cigarettes would likely lead to a lot of people quitting smoking, a new study said on Wednesday.

Menthol cigarettes are a major public health concern since studies have shown that the cooling properties of menthol mask the harshness of cigarettes, making it easier for young people to start smoking, according to the study published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Earlier research has also found that menthol in cigarettes makes it easier for smokers to absorb nicotine, which results in greater dependence. Menthol smokers also found it harder to quit smoking compared to those who smoke non-menthol cigarettes.

According to the researchers, prevalence rates of menthol cigarette use among cigarette smokers vary globally.

About 7.4 per cent of smokers in Europe use menthol cigarettes. In the US, however, some 43.4 per cent of adult smokers used menthol cigarettes in 2020.

Menthol cigarettes are disproportionately used by young people, racial/ethnic minorities, and lower-income smokers, according to the study.

More than 170 US cities and two states, several countries such as Canada, Ethiopia, and the European Union have banned the sale of menthol cigarettes.

To determine how menthol bans change smoking behaviour, investigators conducted a systematic search of English-language studies published up to November 2022 (using PubMed/Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Embase).

The results showed that while 50 per cent of menthol smokers switched to smoking non-menthol cigarettes, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of menthol cigarette smokers quit smoking altogether after a menthol ban.

About 12 per cent switched to other flavoured tobacco products, and 24 per cent continued smoking menthol cigarettes.

shs/dan

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