A recent research has revealed that it is tougher to quit menthol cigarettes than the regular ones, which could be the reason for the excessive smoking-related diseases in blacks in the U.S.
This study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Nearly 70% of the black smokers go for menthol cigarettes like Kool or Newport in comparison to 30% of the white smokers due to several historical and cultural reasons, according to the study. This finding and the difficulty in quitting menthol cigarettes could be the reasons for higher rates of cancer, heart disease and other smoking-related disorders in blacks in the U.S. in spite of them usually smoking less.
"The study, which looked at the smoking habits of 1,535 people over 15 years, did not determine why menthol cigarettes were harder to kick than regular tobacco cigarettes, " said Dr. Mark Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco, the lead author of the study.
"Beyond the obvious, that they're sort of more pleasant to smoke, there is some evidence that it (menthol) inhibits the metabolization of nicotine, the addictive component," he said in an interview.
"So it (nicotine) will last longer. You may get a bigger hit or a longer-lasting hit when you have menthol, though that is still speculation," he added.
"Menthol was associated with a lower likelihood of trying to quit in the first place," the study said. The study also revealed that menthol smokers, even if they did quit, have twice the chances of reverting and also may not quit for a long time.
The study was conducted on 808 women and 727 men. At a follow-up investigation in 2000, it was found that 69 % of those who smoked menthol cigarettes in 1985 were still smoking whereas 54 % of those who smoked regular cigarettes continued to smoke.
There was no proof that peppermint oil-based menthol itself could make such cigarettes more harmful.
"Menthol and non-menthol cigarettes seem to be equally harmful per cigarette smoked in terms of coronary calcification and declines in lung function. However, it is possible that switching from menthol cigarettes to non-menthol cigarettes might facilitate subsequent smoking cessation, especially in African Americans, and thereby reduce tobacco-related health disparities," the study concluded.