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New research sheds light on who smokes menthol cigarettes

Young adults who smoke menthol cigarettes are more likely to be female, black or Hispanic, or identify as LGBT compared to non-menthol smokers, according to new research from the Truth Initiative® Young Adult Cohort Study and published in Addictive Behaviors.

A similar pattern emerged with other flavored tobacco products, including little cigarshookah and smokeless tobacco. The survey results indicated that users of flavored tobacco are more likely to be young and female.

Researchers surveyed 4,239 young adults in the Truth Initiative Young Adult Cohort Survey and identified 1,037 current tobacco users. Tobacco users were isolated and defined based on the types of tobacco products they used. Of the tobacco users sampled, 30 percent were menthol smokers, 41 percent were non-menthol smokers, 11 percent were users of flavored other tobacco products and 18 percent were users of non-flavored other tobacco products.

While some flavored cigarettes were banned under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, that ban does not extend to menthol cigarettes or to any tobacco products other than cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the authority to ban menthol cigarettes as well as all other flavored tobacco products but has not yet taken any concrete steps in this direction.

“Keeping these flavored tobacco products, including menthol, off the market, could go a long way toward slowing the tobacco epidemic, especially in young people,” said Dr. Jessica Rath, Director of Evaluation Science and Research at Truth Initiative.