Does menthol attenuate the effect of bupropion among African American smokers?


Kolawole S. Okuyemi
Department of Family Medicine
University of Kansas Medical Center
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160–7370
Tel. + 1 913 588 1938
Fax: + 1 913 588 1910


Background  African Americans have higher tobacco-related morbidity and mortality and are more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes than their white counterparts. This study examined differences between African American menthol and non-menthol smokers in smoking characteristics and cessation.

Methods  The study sample consisted of 600 African American smokers enrolled in a clinical trial that assessed the efficacy of sustained-release bupropion for smoking cessation. Menthol (n = 471) and non-menthol (n = 129) smokers were compared on smoking-related characteristics and abstinence rates at 6 weeks and 6 months.

Results  Menthol smokers were younger (41.2 versus 52.9 years), more likely to be female (73.7% versus 56.6%) and more likely to smoke their first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up (81.7% versus 69.8%) compared to non-menthol smokers (all P < 0.01). Cigarette taste (50% versus 40%, P = 0.054) was rated non-significantly higher by menthol smokers. Seven-day point-prevalence abstinence from smoking at 6 weeks were 28% and 42% (P = 0.006) and at 6 months were 21% and 27% (P = 0.21) for menthol and non-menthol smokers, respectively. At 6 weeks follow-up, stepwise logistic regression revealed that among those younger than 50 years, non-menthol smokers were more likely to quit smoking (odds ratio = 2.0; 95% CI = 1.03–3.95) as were those who received bupropion (odds ratio = 2.12; 95% CI = 1.32–3.39).

Conclusion  African American menthol smokers had lower smoking cessation rates after 6 weeks of treatment with bupropion-SR, thereby putting menthol smokers at greater risk from the health effects of smoking. Lower overall cessation rates among African Americans menthol smokers may partially explain ethnic differences in smoking-related disease risks.