• African Americans;
  • clinical trial;
  • counseling;
  • health education;
  • light smokers;
  • menthol;
  • motivational interviewing;
  • nicotine replacement therapy;
  • secondary analysis;
  • smoking cessation


Aims  To determine whether African American light smokers who smoked menthol cigarettes had lower cessation when treated with nicotine replacement therapy and counseling.

Design  Data were derived from a clinical trial that assessed the efficacy of 2 mg nicotine gum (versus placebo) and counseling (motivational interviewing counseling versus Health Education) for smoking cessation among African American light smokers (smoked ≤ 10 cigarettes per day).

Participants  The sample consisted of 755 African American light smokers.

Measurements  The primary outcome variable was verified 7-day point-prevalence smoking cessation at 26 weeks follow-up. Verification was by salivary cotinine.

Findings  Compared to non-menthol smokers, menthol smokers were younger and less confident to quit smoking (P = 0.023). At 26 weeks post-randomization, 7-day verified abstinence rate was significantly lower for menthol smokers (11.2% versus 18.8% for non-menthol, P = 0.015).

Conclusions  Among African American light smokers, use of menthol cigarettes is associated with lower smoking cessation rates. Because the majority of African American smokers use menthol cigarettes, a better understanding of the mechanism for this lower quit rate is needed.